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Chris Ofili - Power Man

Article relating to an individual, 1997
Published by: art/text
Year published: 1997
Number of pages: 4

image of Chris Ofili - Power Man

Four page feature on Chris Ofili in art/text magazine, No 58, August - October 1997, pages 36 - 39, written by Terry R. Myers, who was at the time Associate Professor/Critic-in-Residence in the Fine Arts and Graduate Studies Departments at Otis College of Art & Design, Los Angeles. The piece was illustrated with several images of Ofili’s work, reflecting his extensive use of elephant dung during that phase of his practice. One of the images was a full page reproduction of Afrodizzia, 1996, oil paint, paper collage, glitter, polyester resin, map pins and elephant dung on linen, 8 x 6 feet. All of the works in the article were reproduced courtesy of Victoria Miro, London.

Titled Chris Ofili: Power Man, the text covers the sorts of takes on Ofili reflected in numerous texts of this period. It opens with a quote from Manthia Diawara, the Malian-born, US-based writer, filmmaker, cultural theorist, scholar, and art historian. “I submit that until Afrocentricity learns the language of black people in Detroit, Lingala in Zaire, and Bambara in Mali, and grounds itself in the material conditions of the people in question, it is nothing but a kitsch of blackness. It is nothing but an imitation of a discourse of liberation.”

One would in some respects read this as a damning critique of Olifi’s practice of the period, but Myers, demonstrating a somewhat contorted attempt at humour, continues, “… Chris Ofili has rapidly demonstrated that it is possible to have one’s kitsch and beat it too, given that - at the very least - eating it is out of the question. This, of course, puts us right up against the “balls” of elephant dung Ofili uses both on his paintings and as the “feet” they rest upon, as each leans suggestively against a wall. As loaded a material as you could possibly get your hands on/in, the shit in these paintings grounds itself - on all physical sides and from all conceptual directions - in what I would obnoxiously call a truly nonpareil material condition, as nasty as you want to be, as social/ideological as it needs to be, and just like candy sprinkled on top.”

The piece continues throughout in similar vein, and includs a claim that “all of Ofili’s work attacks racial oppression.”

Related people

»  Chris Ofili

Born, 1968 in Manchester, UK