PopUp Painting’s ‘artist of the week’ is Chris Ofili.
Chris Ofili is an English painter (b. 1968) who came to prominence in the early 1990s with his vibrant layered paintings that combined rippling dots of paint, drifts of glitter and collaged images.
The artist’s early work was heavily influenced by Jean-Michel Basquiat, Georg Baselitz and Philip Guston. Ofili was also influenced early on by a scholarship he won which allowed him to travel to Zimbabwe. This trip inspired a new vibrancy in the artist’s work and prompted Ofili to experiment with collaging materials on to his canvases and well as contextually exploring ideas of exoticism.
The artist pushed these ideas further throughout his career until his works became meticulously layered canvases that explored ideas about the sacred and profane, the personal and political and high and low art. One consistent concern of Ofili’s work is black identity and history. The artist frequently employs racial stereotypes in his work to challenge them. Another consistent element of Ofili’s work is the use of elephant dung, often varnished. Lumps are attached to the canvas directly or used to support the paintings when displayed in the gallery space.
In 1997 Chris Ofili’s work appeared in Charles Saatchi’s ’Sensations’ exhibition. The artist is recognised as one of The ‘Young British Artists’ (YBA) who dominated British art in the 90’s. The artist won the Turner prize in 1998. Chris Ofili now lives and works in Trinidad.