“The vicious murder of Stephen Lawrence in 1993 and the pain and suffering of Doreen Lawrence and her family has had a dramatic effect on British life. The painting ‘No Woman, No Cry’, the image of the weeping woman, has always been my way to bring to the surface a sense of sorrow and loss. The painting also has another layer where the text, ‘R.I.P. Stephen Lawrence 1974 – 1993’, is spelled out but is only visible when viewing the painting in lowlight to signify an everlasting life. The recent conviction of two of the murderers was a bittersweet relief but the struggle with institutional racism in British life, highlighted in the Macpherson report, still continues.” – Chris Ofili
Chris Ofili is a Nigerian British artist who emerged as one of the most influential members of the Young British Artists (YBAs) group. He was one of the few African/Caribbean artists to break through as a member of the YBAs and won the Turner Prize in 1998. Ofili’s work utilises elements of high art and popular culture to examine the historical and cultural black experience. He works with a bright palette in a variety of textures and is notable for his use of elephant dung, a practice which has frequently created controversy. For Chris Ofili, the use of dung is a way of literally and psychologically linking his paintings to the earth. When used in his work, Ofili attaches lumps of dung directly to the canvas. On the topic of this application he said: “somehow it makes the painting feel more relaxed, instead of being pinned upon the wall like it’s being crucified.” Chris Ofili’s signature figurative works are rendered through the build-up of layers of paint and collaged materials including glitter, magazine, cut-outs and resin.
Over the past two decades, Chris Ofili has exhibited in many international institutions. After representing Britain at the 50th Venice Biennale in 2003, a group of Ofili’s paintings was included the 56th International Art Exhibition of the Venice Biennale in 2015, curated by Okwui Enwezor. Further major solo exhibitions were held at Tate Britain, London, in 2010, the New Museum, New York, in 2014 and the Aspen Art Museum in Colorado in 2015. Chris Ofili was born 1968 in Manchester and currently lives in Trinidad and Tobago.