This painting pays tribute to the beloved Trinidadian artist Emheyo Bahabba (known as Embah, or grandpa), who died in 2015 at 77. A self-taught poet, painter, sculptor, and musician, Embah was an important role model to the younger artists in Trinidad, and he had been a close friend of Chris Ofili’s since Ofili moved from London to Port of Spain, Trinidad, in 2005. Here the bearded elder artist is depicted in profile at the right, with his palette visible at center. The 10-foot-tall painting joyfully memorializes Embah’s name and life while also conveying the aura of mystery that was fundamental to his persona. The painting was given to the Museum in memory of Kynaston McShine, a much renowned MoMA curator who passed away in early January 2018.
Gallery label from 2018.