Chris Ofili creates paintings inspired by personal experience, race, folklore, biblical narrative, and for the last few years the island of Trinidad where he lives. In 'For the Unknown Runner' a figure, somewhere between super-athlete and mythical being, sprints past a watching crowd. The figure is framed by a vase motif - a reference to the Ancient Olympic Games, which provided an arena for artistic and cultural expression as well as sporting excellence. 'For the Unknown Runner' is a powerful dedication to both Olympic history and the future stars of the London 2012 Games.
Chris Ofili's fascinating and fantastical paintings draw on a variety of art and popular culture influences, including comic-book heroes, pornography, jazz and hip hop, 70's afro hairstyles and Blaxploitation movies. Perhaps most famous for the elephant dung his canvases rest on, Ofili's multi-layered, multi-patterned paintings are intricately worked and benefit from sustained scrutiny. Closer examination of his paintings can, however, also bring the unwanted kind of attention, as was the case at the Brooklyn Museum, New York, where the showing of his canvas 'The Virgin Mary' as part of 'Sensation' exhibition led to New York's then mayor Giuliani trying to shut down the show.
Born in 1968 and educated at the Royal College of Art, Ofili lives and works in Trinidad.
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