Chris Ofili: 2000 Words

Edited by Karen Marta and Massimiliano Gioni. Text by Katherine Brinson.

Since the mid-1990s, Chris Ofili's painstakingly crafted paintings and sculptures have dazzled—and often distressed—viewers with a fusion of opposing forces: sacred meets profane, formal bows to demotic, and exalted bleeds into vulgar. Paintings of rare beauty are propped on elephant dung; deities squat to defecate; and lovers embrace and yet are forcibly bound.

This volume in Deste's 2000 Words series is authored by Katherine Brinson, Curator of Contemporary Art at the Solomon R. Guggenheim Museum in New York, where she curated the museum's 2013 Christopher Wool retrospective and also organizes the Hugo Boss Prize, a biennial award honoring significant achievement in contemporary art.


Publisher: DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art

Artists: Chris Ofili

Contributors: Katherine Brinson, Massimiliano Gioni, Karen Marta

Publication Date: 2015

Binding: Softcover

Dimensions: 7 1/4 x 10 in | 18.4 x 25.4 cm

Pages: 70

Reproductions: 17 color

ISBN: 9786185039158

Retail: $22

Status: Available

Chris Ofili

Since the mid-1990s, Chris Ofili has become well known for his vibrant, technically complex, and meticulously executed paintings and works on paper. While his early works were predominantly abstract, involving intricate patterns and colors, he has since developed a signature figurative style that bridges the gap between the sacred and the profane, and by extension, between high art and popular culture. His works center around the relationship between form and content: often using several layers of paint, resin, glitter, collage elements, and occasionally, elephant dung, Ofili enlists sexual, cultural, historical, and religious references to create uniquely aesthetic and physical works that expose the darker undercurrents of society, while also celebrating contemporary black culture. Drawing on a wide range of sources—from “blaxploitation” movies, the Bible, jazz and hip hop music, comic books, Zimbabwean cave paintings, and the works of artist and poet William Blake—Ofili’s subject matter frequently employs racial stereotypes in order to challenge and reinterpret them.

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