Critics’ Picks

Jasmine Thomas-Girvan Medicine for All Things (detail), 2016, wood, bronze, glass, silver and recycled wheels
30 x 20″.

London

Chris Ofili and Jasmine Thomas-Girvan

David Zwirner | London
24 Grafton Street
August 30–September 21, 2019

A twenty-year artistic conversation between Trinidad-based artists and friends Chris Ofili and Jasmine Thomas-Girvan unfolds sparely but elegantly in “Affinities,” an exhibition of recent works that highlight each artist’s recent takes on folklore, rituals, and the prolific Caribbean landscape. Ofili’s latest oil and gold leaf paintings are kaleidoscopic and grand as ever. For Kiss (Odysseus & Calypso), 2019, Ofili puts the Greek king—rendered with dark skin and coiled hair—in a bed of water, entwined with his lover Calypso, here a mermaid boasting teal, orange, and purple scales (she’s described throughout Homer’s epic as “lustrous Calypso” and “the nymph with lovely braids”). Throughout the room hang ten smaller watercolor-and-pastels from the series “Vessels,” 2019, where the lovers reappear many-hued and in winding formations, oblivious to everything but each other.

The second floor of the show is given over to Thomas-Girvan, a lesser-known Jamaican-born artist whose early experience as a jeweler and avid collector of small objects lost and found inform her finely wrought assemblages and installations. In one sculpture, Medicine for All Things, 2016, a figure poses in profile arms akimbo, sporting a glinting beak and an inky, ectopic human heart. Slim arms pin the hips of a golden torso, under which ravens circle inside a silver crinoline. More striking is the skeletal ark of metal that sits undisturbed atop the subject’s beret, where an abundance of gray palm fronds poke out of miniature corked glasses to form an eerie botanical garden. Who knows what else might grow?