A Mancunian after my own heart, Chris Ofili has become one of the most iconic artists of his generation. After seeing his new exhibition at the Tate Britain this afternoon, I left feeling excited, inspired and ready to work! Ofili's work aims to change stereotypical representations of Black culture. He uses his own idea of contemporary iconography combining traditional African aesthetics, hip-hop, gangster rap and comic characters with biblical imagery.
I loved this exhibition for so many different reasons. Firstly because of Ofili's creative techniques; his paintings are vibrant, energetic and unbelievably decorative. He uses a wide range of mixed media consisting of oils, acrylics, glitter, map pins, collaged magazine cutouts and elephant dung balls- yes you did read that correctly. However, once you get past the colours and the textures and patterns, you see just how evident Ofili's sense of humor is in his work.
This painting, entitled, 'Pimpin' Aint Easy', quite clearly depicts a big black penis- a humorous and well known stereotype. However, notice the faces of famous black men, each collaged on top of a pair of wide open female legs! Names such as Nelson Mandela, Snoop Dogg, Mike Tyson, James Brown, DMX, 2 Pac, Timbaland, P Diddy all make an appearance, and be sure to notice Tiger Woods' head sitting comfortably on a pair of open legs toward the bottom right hand corner- how appropriate! I walked around this exhibition both admiring and having a good laugh.
Controversial I hear? To give you a taster of what to expect, here are a few of his piece titles; 'Painting With Shit On It', 'Space Shit', 'Seven Bitches tossing their Pussies before the Divine Dung'- (Mum if you're reading this I'm sorry!) One thing I will say is that if you are easily offended don't go to this exhibition! As I was walking around the gallery space I overheard two orthodox men discussing the exhibition. I overheard one of them utter, "I'd never have one of those in my house! Just vulgar!" Well Mr Orthodox, luckily for you no one is asking you to hang one on the landing.
It has to be noted, Ofili's work should be taken with a pinch of salt. However his work isn't all about pointing out well known stereotypes within black culture. He also makes a lot of biblical references in his most recent work. Ofili's paintings are so beautiful, so humorous and accessible on so many different levels.
The Chris Ofili exhibition is on at the Tate Britain until May 16 2010, if you're in London with an afternoon to spare, GO GO GO!