Chris Ofili

Born 1968.
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Chris Ofili Biography

Contemporary painter Chris Ofili is known for his expressive, figurative paintings, which incorporate inventive combinations of material including glitter, resin, found photographs, even animal dung. His works explore identity and perception, racism and cultural appropriation, often through a lens of satirical humor.

Born in Manchester in 1968, Chris Ofili studied at the Chelsea School of Art and the Royal College of Art, with a one-year exchange scholarship at the Berlin University of the Arts. Early in his career he secured shows through the Saatchi gallery and was featured in its travelling exhibition Sensation in 1997. The following year he was awarded the Turner Prize. He travelled to Zimbabwe in the early 1990s, where he studied cave paintings, as well as to Trinidad, where eventually relocated in 2005. He founded the Freeness Project, a musical endeavor that brought attention to artists from minority groups. The project combined the work of twenty-nine producers and musicians from Asian and African countries in a major album and tour. Ofili was interested both in exploring the ways in which Western markets require black musicians to conform to particular stereotypes of ‘urban’ styles, and in providing a platform for artists to produce work free from such confines.

Ofili was appointed Commander of the Order of the British Empire in 2017 for services to art. He has had many major solo exhibitions over the last two decades, including at the Tate Britain, London; the New Museum, New York; the Arts Club of Chicago; Kestnergesellschaft, Hanover; the Southamptom City Art Gallery; and the Studio Museum in Harlem, New York. The Holy Virgin Mary, once called “degenerate” by Donald Trump for its famous use of elephant dung in a portrait of the Virgin Mary – a common material for the artist – was donated to the permanent collection of the Museum of Modern Art in 2018.

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Artist Image: 2000 Eamonn McCabe