Winner of the Turner Prize in 1998, Chris Ofili was one of the infamous YBAs (Young British Artists) who gained notoriety in the 1990s. Ofili is no exception, as he's best known for his paintings incorporating Elephant Dung and his canvas ‘The Virgin Mary’ led to NYC Mayor Giuliani trying to shut down the ‘Sensation’ exhibition in the Brooklyn Museum, where it was hung. Despite his controversy, Ofili is rightly celebrated as one of the few British artists with Afro/Caribbean heritage to break through as a YBA.
Ofili studied art at both Chelsea School of Art and the Royal College of Art. During his time as a student he won a scholarship which enabled him to travel to Zimbabwe, where he study cave paintings, and Berlin, where he found great inspiration in the Expressionist movement.
Ofili's work has been linked to Jean-Michel Basquiat and often makes reference to gangsta rap, blaxploitation films, comic books seeking to challenge racial and sexual stereotypes within it. He combines this with other influences such as cave paintings, traditional 18th and 19th century portraits, jazz, religious iconography and the natural world. Within his work we come to question the very notion of beauty and alongside it, discover messages concerning Black culture, history and exoticism.
His painted works are often heavily built up with layers of mixed media, including elephant dung, collage, resin, paint and glitter. Since 2005 he lives and works in Trinidad, where he has a studio near the port of Spain and lives with his wife Rosa, former singer with Attica Blues. Ofili was awarded the CBE in 2017 for services to art.