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Chris Ofili by Kyle Stration

Chris Ofili was born in 1968 in Manchester, Great Brittan. Ofili is a painter who is often recognized as, “That guy who paints with elephant poop�. Though he may be “that guy�, Ofili uses elephant dung more as a sculptural element and for the commentary it generates than simply as paint. Ofili’s most infamous paintings are those whose themes reflect holy figures from the bible. Ofili’s works often are a commentary on sexism, social injustice, and religion at the same time that their approaches to the issues seem humorous.
Though it’s hard to say what has motivated Ofili to compose such controversial work, he does try to tread a line between genius and insane. His pieces often use very elementary figures and incorporate materials like oil paint, elephant dung, glitter, and collage pictures from pornographic magazines. However, these elementary figures are composed in such a way that they begin debate and discussion that reflect how smart Ofili is. He often uses vibrant reds, oranges, blues, purples, and yellows which make his pieces stand apart from most others in galleries. Also, the fact that he doesn’t hang his work, but instead leans it against gallery walls on mounds of dung make his work demand attention.
Ofili’s pieces are very unique, however if I were to compare his work to any other artists we’ve studies, I say he reminds me somewhat of Hubert Duprat. Not in the media they use (Duprat uses precious metals and stones to allow bugs to build structures) but in the conversations that are sparked by their work. Their pieces bring about talk as to whether either is an artist. Both push the discussion with their work; Ofili with if his craft is good enough to be called professional and Duprat with the discussion of if he is even the artist in his work. Controversy has surrounded both artists’ careers, as it does with countless great artists. Now, whether either artist will one day be called a great artist is yet to be seen, but both have the creativity, passion, and controversy in their work to possibly be called great one day.
Chris Ofili isn’t for everybody. His work undoubtedly stands out in a gallery, but I think a lot of causal museum goers would be turned off by his work. If they don’t have a problem with the glitter or the super saturated colors of his work, the elephant dung and often offensive subject matter of his pieces are usually enough for people to dismiss his work. For the few that remain, his work does make interesting commentary on social issues and religion, especially when paired with each piece’s title. If one doesn’t have a sense of humor about his compositions, or of the subject matter, at least they may still appreciate the creativity Ofili possesses.