Chris Ofili is an English born painter noted for artworks referencing aspects of his Nigerian heritage.  His work has been an ongoing source of controversy.Ofili was born in Manchester in 1968.  He completed a foundation in art at Tameside College in Ashton-under-Lyne and studied art in London, at the Chelsea School of Art from 1988 to 1991 and at the Royal College of Art from 1991 to 1993.

In 1992, he was awarded a British Council travel scholarship to Zimbabwe.  There, Ofili studied cave paintings which had a great effect and lasting impact on his painting style.  The cave paintings, with their images composed of decorative dots, have helped evolve Ofili’s painting style which combines richly-coloured patterning with collage and three dimensional elements.   That first visit to Africa encouraged him to reconsider his own identity and to develop a highly personal aesthetic through which he examines issues of black culture, imagery and sexual stereotyping. During his stay in Africa, Ofili began to incorporate lumps of elephant dung into his canvases – both as compositional elements and as supports on which to display his paintings.

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 Afrodizzia 1996

Ofili was established through exhibitions by Charles Saatchi at his gallery in North London and the travelling exhibition Sensation in 1997 and so establishing him as a member of the Young British Artists.

In 1999 as part of the Sensation exhibit, Ofili exhibited one of his paintings, The Holy Virgin Mary, a depiction of the Virgin Mary.  The painting sparked a lawsuit between the mayor of New York City, Rudy Giuliani and the Brooklyn Museum of Art.  The painting depicted a black African Mary surrounded by images cut from pornographic magazines, elephant dung as was also used.

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The Holy Virgin Mary 1996

Works such as Afrodizzia and Spaceshit are characteristic examples of his style.  I particularly like the strong colours and the use of innovative techniques and materials employed by Ofili. 

 

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 Spaceshit  1995

 

 

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