Chris Ofili: Night and Day Exhibition
Recently, we were lucky enough to visit the Chris Ofili: Night and Day Exhibition at the New Museum in New York; the first major solo museum exhibition in the US of the British Turner Prize winner’s work. We were blown away by Chris's vibrant and sumptuous use of colour, intricate textures and kaleidoscopic references to black culture.
An English painter of Nigerian descent, Chris was awarded a scholarship to Zimbabwe in 1992 after studying at Chelsea School of Art in London; an experience which hugely influenced his work. Whilst in Africa, Chris began to experiment with unconventional techniques and materials including elephant dung, which has become a signature feature of his work. Lumps of chemically treated dung are either attached to the canvas directly or used to support the paintings when displayed in galleries. For Chris, using dung links the painting literally and psychologically to the earth.
Using references from African music, culture, religion and textiles, his paintings explore issues of black identity and experience and frequently employ racial stereotypes in order to challenge them. Afrodizzia for example, his 1996 work below, makes reference to the stereotype of black sexual potency with magazine cut-out faces sporting 1970s Afro hairstyles and their names written in pinheads on lumps of dung.
The exhibition runs until 25 January 2014 and for anyone in New York, we highly recommend a visit.