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Maggie's Chris Ofili Project

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Maggie Mountain
ARTS 1001
Chris Ofili
"My project is not a p c project ... It allows you to laugh about issues that are potentially serious." ~Chris Ofili

Chris Ofili is a contemporary British artist that emerged in the early 90s. He is known for the use of elephant dung in his paintings. Chris Ofili is of Nigerian descent and incorporates his African heritage into many of his works. He was born and raised a Roman Catholic and he also uses many symbols from it in some of his work. Ofili has had art displayed in many prominent museums and galleries and has created a lot of controversy over his works of art. He uses a variety of materials such as acrylic, oil, resin, paper collage, glitter, map pins, and elephant dung on canvas. Ofili incorporates most of these into each piece of art he does. He uses many themes that mainly deal with sex, politics and religion.
Ofili is influenced by so many different things. Some of the main ones are 1970s comics, contemporary black music, and pornographic magazines. He also has musical influences mainly from the soul, hip-hop and jazz genres. He uses many cultural references and popular material in his work that have to do with his themes of sex, politics and religion. Ofili wants the audience to see the beauty in his paintings and the elephant dung is supposed to be a challenge to the beauty in his work. He believes there is conflict created because of this clash between dung and beauty.
Chris Ofili’s work reminded me the most of Suzanne Opton’s work with the Soldier Billboard Project. A similarity is that she incorporated politics into this piece as Ofili does in some of his pieces as well. In her piece that we discussed in class she had asked soldiers to pose in a certain position that made them appear to be dead. She had these pictures placed on billboards in Denver and Minneapolis during the Conventions. This created a controversy because some people thought it was insensitive to the people who have lost loved ones in this war. I feel Suzanne Opton and Chris Ofili have that in common. They know that what they are putting out there is potentially controversial, but they do it anyway. This is what I love about Suzanne’s piece and Chris’ work. They aren’t afraid of what the audience will think.
These artists’ use completely different materials while making their art. Opton uses photography and Ofili uses collage materials and paint. They both relate to their audiences by using known objects or people. Soldiers are what the main focus in Opton’s piece was and everyone knows that they are looking at a soldier when they see her billboards. Ofili is a little more subtle, but if you don’t know what it is in his piece of work you will know by the title. The best example I have for that is his version of the mother of Jesus, Virgin Mary.
I would definitely recommend Chris Ofili’s work to my friends and family. I would warn them that it may be a little controversial, but the work is beautiful and the concepts behind each piece are wonderful as well. My favorite exhibition of his was in The Upper Room in the Tate Britain Museum. I loved how he replicated basically the same image for 13 different pictures, but at the same time they are all so different. I think he makes beautiful work and gets his opinions out there. I think everyone deserves a chance to be heard.

Chris Ofili “She? 1997 Chris Ofili “No Woman No Cry? 1998 Chris Ofili “The Holy Virgin Mary? 1996

"Chris Ofili." Artnet. 20 Nov. 2008 .
"Chris Ofili profile." BBC News. 1 Dec. 1998. 12 Nov. 2008.
Collings, Matthew. This Is Modern Art. London: Weidenfeld & Nicolson, 2004.
Opton, Suzanne. "Soldier Billboard Project." The UnConvention. 20 Nov. 2008 .