Chris Ofili creates intricate, kaleidoscopic paintings and works on paper that deftly merge abstraction and figuration. Ofili rose to prominence in the 1990s for his complex and playful multi-layered paintings, which he bedecked with a signature blend of resin, glitter, collage, and, often, elephant dung. His recent works—vibrant, symbolic, and frequently mysterious—draw upon the lush landscapes and local traditions of the island of Trinidad, where he has lived since 2005. Employing a diverse range of aesthetic and cultural sources, including, among others, Zimbabwean cave paintings, blaxploitation films, Italian soccer player Mario Balotelli, and modernist painting, Ofili’s work investigates the intersection of passion, identity, and representation.
Born in 1968 in Manchester, England, Ofili received his B.F.A. from the Chelsea School of Art, London in 1991 and his M.F.A. from the Royal College of Art, London in 1993. In 2005, the artist joined David Zwirner, where he has had two solo exhibitions at the gallery in New York. Currently on view at the gallery's 19th Street location is Chris Ofili: Paradise Lost, a solo exhibition of new work by the artist.
Earlier this year, Ofili created a site-specific artwork, incorporating a mural, for Marisol, the newly redesigned restaurant at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago. The artist will also present new work commissioned by the Institute of Contemporary Art, Miami, for the opening of its new building later this year.
In 2015, a group of Ofili’s paintings was included in All The World's Futures, the 56th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale, curated by Okwui Enwezor. Ofili’s work has been the subject of solo exhibitions worldwide, including Chris Ofili: Night and Day, the first major museum solo exhibition of the artist's work in the United States. The show was organized by the New Museum in New York, where it was first presented in 2014, and traveled to the Aspen Art Museum in Colorado in 2015.
Other monographic exhibitions have taken place at the British Pavilion, 50th Venice Biennale, Venice (2003); The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York (2005); Tate Britain, London (2005 and 2010); kestnergesellschaft, Hanover (2006); and the Arts Club of Chicago (2010). In 1998, he was awarded the prestigious Turner Prize and, in 2016, Ofili was a recipient of Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (CBE), awarded by the Queen.
His works are represented in prominent collections internationally, including The British Museum, London; Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, Pennsylvania; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; The Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Tate Gallery, London; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; and the Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, Minnesota.