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The Fearless Chris Ofili Enters His Own Personal Paradise Lost

Chris Ofili is still fearless after all these years. His current stunning gallery-filling exhibition “Paradise Lost,” at David Zwirner through October 21, consists of just four paintings. The visual range here is narrow, austere, systemized. Each canvas is rendered in black-and-white patterns of little shapes, some of which convert into recognizable forms. Words appearing three times. Each of the paintings is slightly larger than life-sized, flat, not messy, loosely abstract, and look like a graphic combination of stained glass, dish towels, mystic dotted Australian dream paintings, and nonrepresentational movie posters. All four paintings are hung inside a large square of floor-to-ceiling cyclone-fencing cage — facing inward. Meaning viewers must take up positions on the either side of the gallery and look through the fence to see the work at all. There are only a few feet between the fence and walls. Yet the gestalt of “Paradise Lost” exudes a metaphysical geography of philosophy and otherness...

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