To comprehend Chris Ofili’s work and interpret it in a fair manner, we have to identify styles that are consistent with his work. Ofili’s work is recognizable by the layered surfaces of different materials. He borrows from the works of other artists and incorporates them into his work. An example is the way he uses the cut out of photographs from magazines. Another feature common among Ofili’s work is the size of his paintings. He does most of his work on six by eight feet canvases. Not that size means anything significant but I choose not to ignore it as a factor in the interpretation of his work. In my opinion, he desires to “magnify” the message in his works. I will give the example of his controversial painting the “Holy Virgin Mary” which has had its admirers and condemners. The work was a brazen play on religion and it could not be ignored largely because of its depiction of the Black Madonna. I argue that the size of that painting was an intention to magnify that depiction as with all other Ofili’s paintings. Lastly, Ofili uses cow dung in most of his exertion. He said that the elephant dung was inspired by his visit to Zimbabwe during his masters at the Royal College of Art. He saw cave paintings which inspires his styles including his use of dung. He has often contended that the dung is meant to bring out the “ugliness” of the beauty of his paintings. It is important to note that Mr. Ofili derives his inspiration to make art from the social and political events affecting him or the community in general. Most of his paintings document the issues affecting black people between the 70s and 90s. An example is “No Woman No Cry” which was inspired by racism against black in Britain. In his paintings also, Ofili asserts his thoughts on religion, popular culture and music (hip hop). The “Holy Virgin Mary” is a good example of where Ofili makes a bold but humorous statement on the Roman Catholic faith (Kleiner, 2008, p. 55). “Afrodizzia” looks like a jewel. The medium used in the base composition of the painting is acrylic paint with oil resin, glitter, paper collage; map pins and elephant compost. The collage, the paint and the lines drawings in the piece make it quite a sight. Ofili has used red, yellow and orange colors in the painting to signify energy, excitement and radiance. These are the same words that could be used to describe the color scheme. The white background of the painting is a probable allusion to a clean sheet that will be “stained” by elephant dung. The introduction of green and blue colors creates a clash that can be directly interpreted to signify Ofili’s search for identity. Color in art speaks of the mood of the piece in study. Ofili’s decision to use many colors in an unspecified pattern shows a clash of emotions, identity and character. “Afrodizzia “was painted during a period fraught with the outcomes of racial tension in Great Britain. It was completed in 1996, three years after the racist murder of Stephen Lawrence by six white youths (Campbell 1993) and during the Macpherson enquiry into his death. This tension had/has been ongoing since the Brixton riots in 1981 with Macpherson finding that certain institutions in Britain were racist and incompetent. Perhaps, Chris Ofili represented
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Name: Course: Instructor: Date: “Afrodizzia” Chris Ofili’s “Afrodizzia” can be described with exactitude as a frozen record of the contemporary black African’s experience. Chris Ofili’s works are often records of events and emotions of a certain period of time…
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