Chris Ofili (British, born October 10, 1968), Turner Prize-winning painter and member of the Young British Artists, is best known for his inventive, vibrant works examining contemporary black experience, which draw upon a wide array of historical and cultural sources. Born in Manchester, Ofili studied in London at the Chelsea School of Art from 1988 through 1991, and received a master’s degree from the Royal College of Art in 1993. While he was a student he traveled to Zimbabwe for six weeks, an experience that significantly impacted his artistic production. One of the few YBAs of African descent, Ofili’s work was exhibited regularly by Charles Saatchi at his North London gallery.

In brightly colored, technically complex works, Ofili incorporates sources ranging from the cave paintings of Zimbabwe to comic books, pornography, and hip-hop culture to present varied experiences of contemporary black identity. His work incorporates a myriad of materials, including glitter, magazine cutouts, resin, and, perhaps most famously, elephant dung. Symbolic of his Nigerian roots, Ofili often uses elephant dung to prop up the base of his paintings for display, in addition to incorporating the material into his painted canvases. In 1998, Ofili was awarded the prestigious Turner Prize; the following year, his work generated significant praise and controversy at the Brooklyn Museum’s famous Sensation exhibition. Ofili has since exhibited a diverse range of works including watercolors, sculpture, and large-scale installations in addition to his paintings. In 2003, he was selected to represent Britain at the Venice Biennale. His work is held in the permanent collections of the Museum of Modern Art in New York, the San Francisco Museum of Art, and the Tate Gallery and Victoria and Albert Museum in London. Ofili currently lives and works in Trinidad.

Timeline

1968
Born in Manchester, United Kingdom
1987–1988
Took a foundation course at the Tameside College of Technology, Manchester, UK
1988–1991
Graduated with a BA in Fine Art from the Chelsea School of Art, London, UK
1992
Received the British Council Travel Scholarship, Zimbabwe
1991–1993
Graduated with a MA in Fine Art from the Royal College of Art, London, UK
1998
Was awarded with the Turner Prize, Tate Gallery, London, UK
2004
Was awarded with the Honorary Fellowship University of the Arts, London, UK
2004
Received the South Bank Award: Visual Arts, London, UK
2000–2005
Was appointed trustee, council member of the Tate Gallery, London, UK
2005
Was commissioned with the decoration of the Nobel Peace Centre, Oslo, Norway
Currently lives and works in London, UK

Exhibitions

2012
Chris Ofili Exhibitions in 2012:
To take and to give, Victoria Miro Gallery, London, UK (solo exhibition)
The Master Printer and the Collaborative Process, International Print Center New York, New York City, NY
Œuvres de la collection, Battat Contemporary, Montreal, QC, Canada
La Triennale 2012, Intense Proximity, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France
2011
Chris Ofili Exhibitions in 2011:
The Strawberry Thief, FAS Contemporary, London, UK
Art², FLAG Art Foundation, New York City, NY, USA
Beyond The Human Clay, James Hyman Fine Art, London, UK
El intervalo luminoso: The D.Daskalopoulos Collection, Museo Guggenheim de Arte Moderno y Contemporáneo, Bilbao, Spain
LITOS GRAFERA, Kunst Centret Silkeborg Bad, Silkeborg, Denmark
2010
Chris Ofili Exhibitions in 2010:
Chris Ofili: Afrotranslinear, Arts Club of Chicago, Chicago, IL, USA (solo exhibition)
Chris Ofili, Tate Britain, London, UK (solo exhibition)
21st Century: Art in the First Decade, Queensland Art Gallery / Gallery of Modern Art, Brisbane, QLD, Australia
James Ensor, Hareng Saur: Ensor et l'art contemporain, SMAK Stedelijk Museum voor Actuele Kunst, Gent, Belgium
Happy End, Kunsthalle Göppingen, Göppingen, Germany
Thrice upon a time, Magasin 3 Stockholm Konsthall, Stockholm, Sweden
Modern Master Works, Scream London, London, UK
Kupferstichkabinett: Between Thought and Action, White Cube, Hoxton Square, London, UK
In the Company of Alice, Victoria Miro Gallery, London, UK
Tudo o que é sólido dissolve-se no ar: o social na Colecção Berardo, Berardo Museum, Collection of Modern and Contemporary Art, Lisbon
Alpha Omega, Deste Foundation, Centre for Contemporary Art, Athens, Greece
PAPYROPHILIA, Charlie Smith London, London, UK
Self-Consciousness, VW (VeneKlasen/Werner), Berlin, Germany
Skin Fruit: Selections from the Dakis Joannou Collection, New Museum of Contemporary Art, New York City, NY, USA
Party! , The New Art Gallery Walsall, Walsall, West Midlands, UK
2009
Chris Ofili Exhibitions in 2009:
Tate Britain, London, UK
Afro Margin, David Zwirner, New York, NY, USA (solo exhibition)
30 Seconds off an Inch, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York City, NY, USA
Work on Paper, Wolverhampton Art Gallery, Wolverhampton, UK
FLOWER POWER, Craa Centro di ricerca arte attuale Villa Giulia, Verbania
Remain in Light, W139, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
2008
…same as it ever was: Painting at Chelsea 1990-2007, The Arts Gallery, University of the Arts London (solo exhibition)
2007
Hunky Dory, Tatinsian Gallery, Moscow, Russia
Draw, mima, Middlesbrough, UK
Devil’s Pie, David Zwirner, New York, NY, USA (solo exhibition)
2006
Chris Ofili Exhibitions in 2006:
The Blue Rider Extended Remix, Kestnergesellschaft, Hanover, Germany (solo exhibition)
How To Improve The World: 60 Years of British Art, Hayward Gallery, London, UK
Surprise Surprise, ICA, London, UK
Prints Now, Victoria and Albert Museum, London, UK
Infinite Painting, Villa Manin Centro d’Arte Contemporanea, Codroipo, Italy
The Compulsive Line: Etching 1900 to Now, MoMA, New York, NY, USA
2005
Chris Ofili Exhibitions in 2005:
The Upper Room, Tate Britain, London, UK (solo exhibition)
The Blue Rider, Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin, Germany (solo exhibition)
Afro Muses, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY, USA (solo exhibition)
After Cezanne, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Revelations: Reflecting British Art in the Arts Council Collection, Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle, UK
Baroque and Neobaroque, Domus Atrium 2002, Salamanca, Spain
Drawing from the Modern: 1975–2005, MoMA, New York, NY, USA
Early Work, David Zwirner, New York, NY, USA
Translation, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France
Getting Emotional, ICA, Boston, MA, USA
Contemporary Erotic Drawing, Aldrich Museum of Contemporary Art, Ridgefield, CT, USA
Artists & Prints: Masterworks from the Museum of Modern Art, MoMA, NY, USA
2004
Chris Ofili Exhibitions in 2004:
Faces in the Crowd, Picturing Modern Life from Manet to Today, Castello di Rivoli, Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Torino, Italy / Whitechapel Gallery, London, UK
Huts, The Douglas Hyde Gallery, Dublin, Ireland
Monument to Now, The Dakis Joannou Collection, DESTE Foundation for Contemporary Art, Athens, Greece
Seeds & Roots: Selections from the Permanent Collection, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York, NY, USA
Fabulism, Joslyn Art Museum, Omaha, NE, USA
2003
Chris Ofili Exhibitions in 2003:
Within Reach, British Pavilion, Venice Biennale, Venice, Italy (solo exhibition)
The Dead Bird Show, Whitechapel Project Space, London, UK
Supernova, SFMoMa, San Francisco, CA, USA
Happiness: A Survival Guide for Art and Life, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo, Japan
Paradise, National Gallery, London, UK; Laing Art Gallery, Newcastle, UK; City Museum and Art Gallery, Bristol, UK
2002
Chris Ofili Exhibitions in 2002:
Freedom One Day, Victoria Miro Gallery, London, UK (solo exhibition)
Drawing now: eight propositions, MoMA, New York, NY, USA
Cavepainting, Santa Monica Museum of Art, Santa Monica, CA, USA
One Planet Under A Groove: Hip Hop and Contemporary Art, Bronx Museum of the Arts, New York, NY, USA; Walker Arts Center, Minneapolis, MN, USA; Spelman Museum of Fine Art, Atlanta, GA, USA
2001
Chris Ofili Exhibitions in 2001:
Chris Ofili Watercolours, Gallery Side 2, Japan (solo exhibition)
Form Follows Fiction, Castello di Rivoli, Museo d’Arte Contemporanea, Torino, Italy
Public Offerings, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles, CA, USA
Works on Paper: from Acconci to Zittel, Victoria Miro Gallery, London, UK
Painting at the Edge of the World, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, USA
2000
Chris Ofili Exhibitions in 2000:
Sydney Biennale, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia
Chris Ofili Drawings, Victoria Miro Gallery, London, UK (solo exhibition)
1999
Chris Ofili Exhibitions in 1999:
Afrobiotics, Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, New York, NY, USA (solo exhibition)
Carnegie International, Carnegie Museum of Art, Pittsburgh, PA, USA
6th International Istanbul Biennial, Istanbul, Turkey
Trouble Spot Painting, NICC and MUHKA, Antwerp, Belgium
1998
Chris Ofili Exhibitions in 1998:
The Turner Prize, Tate Gallery, London, England
Sensation: Young British Artists from the Saatchi Collection, Royal Academy of Arts, London, UK; Hamburger Bahnhof, Berlin, Germany; Brooklyn Museum of Art, New York, NY, USA
Chris Ofili, Whitworth Art Gallery, Manchester, UK (solo exhibition)
Chris Ofili, Serpentine Gallery, London, UK; Southampton City Art Gallery, Southampton, UK (solo exhibition)
1997
Pimpin Ain’t Easy But It Sure Is Fun, Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin, Germany (solo exhibition)
Pictura Britannica, Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia
1996
Mothership Connection, Stedelijk Museum Bureau, Amsterdam, The Netherlands
Afrodizzia, Victoria Miro Gallery, London, UK (solo exhibition)
1995
Chris Ofili, Gavin Brown’s Enterprise, New York, NY, USA (solo exhibition)
Brilliant! New Art from London, Walker Art Center, Minneapolis, MN, USA

Literature

2007
Hunk Dory, Gary Tatintian Gallery, Moscow 2007
2006
Andrea Bruciati und Alessandra Galasso, Painting Codes / Codici Della Pittura, GC.AC. Galleria Communale d'Arte, Monfalcone, 2006
2006
Translation. A visual trip operated and articulated by Dakis Joannou, Palais de Tokyo, Paris, France
2006
Surprise, Surprise, ICA Insitute of Contemporary Arts, London, UK
2006
The Blue Rider Extended Remix, edited by Veit Görner and Hilke Wagner, Kestnergesellschaft, Hannover, Germany
2006
Oliver Koerner von Gustorf, Interview mit Chris Ofili, Modernist Blues, www.db-artmag.com, Special Print Issue 2006, No. 1, S. 9
2006
Chr. Herchenröder, Skulptur auf dem Vormarsch, Handelsblatt, 29.Sept-1.Okt 2006, Kunstmarkt, S.1
2006
Schlüter, Ralf, Die Sanfte Umschreibung der Geschichte, Art, Nr. 7, Juli 2006, S. 84
2006
Oliver Koerner von Gustorf, Hey, hey, hey, ich bin der Blaue reiter, Welt am Sonntag, Hamburg, 25. Juni 2006, S. 58
2006
Blauer Reiter reloaded, Der Spiegel, Nr. 26, 26. Juni 2006, S. 127
2006
Alexandra Glanz, Das Kreuz der Kulturen, Hannoversche Allgemeine Zeitung, 23. Juni 2006
2006
Henning Queren, Die blausilberne Kälte des Nordens – Der expressionistische Reiter als Remix, Neue Presse, 23. Juni 2006, Nr. 144.
2006
Heidi Bürklin, Chris Ofili und das dekorative Potenzial von Elefantendung, Kunstzeitung, Nr. 115, März 2006, S. 28
2005
Kbm, Erdverbunden, The Blue Rider von Chris Ofili bei Contemporary Fine Arts, TIP 25/05, S. 76.
2005
Luke Harding, Bottoms up, Ofili ponders the nature of relationships, The Guardian, 19.11.2005, S. 1, 10-11.
2005
Adrian Searle, Ofili: the blue period, The Guardian, 22.11.2005, S. 18-19.
2005
Daniel Völzke, Der Blaue Reiter reitet blauer weiter, Gruß aus dem Garten Eden: Chris Ofili in der Galerie Contemporary Fine Arts, Der Tagesspiegel, NR 19 048, 17. 12.2005, S. 26.
2005
The Blue Rider, essays by Christoph Zuschlag, Bazon Brock, Carolina Grau, Greg Tate & Louis Antwi, Contemporary Fine Arts, Berlin
2005
Afro Muses 1995 - 2005, essays by Thelma Golden, Beth Coleman & Hilton Als, The Studio Museum in Harlem, New York
2003
Within Reach, published on the occasion of the exhibition at the British Pavilion, 50th Venice Biennale, essays by Thelma Golden, Beth Coleman, Stuart Hall & Adrian Searle
2002
The Upper Room, essays by Dr. Susanna Paisley & Beth Coleman, Victoria Miro Gallery, London
2002
Freedom One Day, essays by Bidisha, Sophie Woolley, Ray Shell, Roger Robinson, Francesca Beard & Courttia Newland, Victoria Miro Gallery, London
2002
High Art Lite by Julian Stallabrass, Verso, London & New York
2000
May 26th Sabatian Smee No-one needs to say sorry. The Sydney Morning Herald
2000
May 23rd Simon Morley Chris Ofili Drawings. The Independent
2000
April The art of exhibition. Pittsburgh Post-Gazette
2000
March 19 Graham Shearing The Legacy. Tribune Review
2000
March E. Leffingwell Carnegie Ramble. Art in America
1999
Chris Ofili, essays by Godfrey Worsdale & Lisa G. Corrin. Published by order of Southampton City Art Gallery and the Serpentine Gallery, London