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Chris Ofili (1968 - )

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Chris Ofili (born 1968) is an English painter noted for works referencing aspects of his African background.

Ofili was born in Manchester. He studied art in London, at the Chelsea School of Art from 1988 to 1991 and at the Royal College of Art from 1991 to 1993.

In 1992 he won a scholarship which allowed him to travel to Zimbabwe. Ofili, who is of Nigerian descent, studied cave paintings there which had some effect on his style. He also began to incorporate elephant dung into his pictures, a substance which is used in a variety of rituals in Africa. This is sometimes applied directly to the canvas in lumps, and sometimes acts a support on which the paintings stand.

One such painting, a depiction of the Virgin Mary, caused a controversy when it was exhibited at the Brooklyn Museum of Art in New York City.

Ofili's painting also references blaxploitation films and gangsta rap often to question racial and sexual stereotypes in a humorous way. His work is often built up in layers of paint, resin, glitter, dung and other materials to create a collage.

Ofili showed work in the exhibitions which established the Young British Artists, Brilliant! (1995) and Sensation (1997). He has had numerous solo shows since the early 1990s.

In 1998, Ofili won the Turner Prize. --http://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Chris_Ofili [Sept 2004]

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