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Charmant Eight

Charmant Eight
signed, titled and dated ‘Chris Ofili 2005-2006 “Charmant eight”’ (on the reverse)
oil, acrylic, charcoal and aluminium foil on canvas
106 x 79in. (269.2 x 200.7cm.)
Executed in 2005-2006
Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin.
Private Collection, Europe.
Anon. sale, Sotheby's London, 13 October 2011, lot 35.
Acquired at the above sale by the present owner.
P. Doig, C. Becker, D. Adjaye, O. Enwezor, K. Walker, T. Golden and C. Shaw, Chris Ofili, New York 2009, p. 266 (illustrated in colour, pp. 185-187).
Hanover, Kestner Gesellschaft, Chris Ofili. The Blue Rider: Extended Remix, 2006, p. 178 (illustrated in colour, p. 135; studio view illustrated in colour, p. 104).
Special notice
Artist's Resale Right ("Droit de Suite"). Artist's Resale Right Regulations 2006 apply to this lot, the buyer agrees to pay us an amount equal to the resale royalty provided for in those Regulations, and we undertake to the buyer to pay such amount to the artist's collection agent. This lot has been imported from outside of the UK for sale and placed under the Temporary Admission regime. Import VAT is payable at 5% on the hammer price. VAT at 20% will be added to the buyer’s premium but will not be shown separately on our invoice.

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Anna Touzin
Anna Touzin Specialist, Head of Day Sale

Lot Essay

Chris Ofili’s Charmant Eight (2005-2006) is a moonlit Eden, complete with a snake, tree, and fruit. Glowing brightly against a patchwork sky, a giant, silver moon illuminates this arcadia. Charmant Eight is part of the artist’s Blue Rider series, a cycle of paintings which take their name from Wassily Kandinsky and Franz Marc’s group Der Blaue Reiter. Founded in 1911, these artists were united by their pursuit of an abstract, non-objective visual idiom that synthesised all the arts; they believed wholly in colour as a spiritual form. A century later, Ofili co-opted this Modernist heritage as a means of creating his own constellation of connections. His works bring together the seemingly incongruent to create what critic Adrian Searle described as a ‘a dirty, bluesy, rich and complex sort of visual poetry’ (A. Searle, ‘Ofili: the blue period’, The Guardian, 22 November 2005). Charmant Eight was included in Ofili’s 2006 solo exhibition The Blue Rider: Extended Remix held at the Kestner Gesellschaft in Hanover.

Although Ofili gained fame for his use of unconventional materials, following his 2005 relocation to Trinidad, the tenor of his practice shifted profoundly. Filled with references to Trinidadian culture and landscape, the Blue Rider paintings respond directly to his lush new environs. Indeed, the sultriness of Charmant Eight summons a languid dreamscape redolent with the aromas of tropical heat. Yet although Ofili firmly rooted himself in his new home, Charmant Eight continues the artist’s ongoing dialogue with his Modernist forebears. In addition to Kandinsky and Marc, Ofili’s smooth panes of flat colour recall canvases by the Nabis, the group of young Modernists who believed in Symbolism and subjectivity. Like the work of Maurice Denis and Paul Sérusier, Ofili too embraces the expressive potential of colour. Indeed, the Blue Rider paintings enabled Ofili to pursue a singular aesthetic inquiry. ‘I was trying to find new ways to use a colour to the point of saturation,’ he recalled, ‘to the point where you don't see it’ (C. Ofili, quoted in O. Enwezor, K. Walker, T. Golden et al., Chris Ofili, New York 2009, p. 244). Chromatic monogamy gave way to extraordinary experimentation as Ofili invented new imagery rooted entirely in the pigment’s materiality. Out of the blues of Charmant Eight an entire universe comes into being.

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