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Walker Art Center



Institution Walker Art Center
Born in Manchester England to Nigerian parents, Chris Ofili is one of the best known of the generation of YBAs, or Young British Artists. Ofili's intense and original colorful visual style combines the worlds of kitsch, hip-hop music, decorative art, Pop Art, blaxploitation films, the London Zoo, and the Zimbabwe plains.

In 1992, while studying at the National Academy of Art in London, Ofili was awarded a scholarship to travel and make art in Zimbabwe, where he reconnected with his African heritage. While the country's political structure and the remnants of colonialism still present there affected Ofili, the animals and landscape had the strongest impact on him.

Third Eye Vision is a kaleidoscopic painting of color and abstract patterns. Its visual elements are distinctive to the work of this self-described "hip-hop artist." The richly layered, hallucinogenic surface combines pointillist patterns with magazine cutouts and glitter with glow-in-the-dark bits of plastic. All of this rests upon Ofili's signature pieces of decorated and varnished elephant dung, which the artist uses as a comment on nature, his African heritage, and the art world. The third eye at the center of the painting calls to mind the far-reaching, spiritually inflected iconography of Asia and the African Diaspora. Like all of Ofili's work, this painting fearlessly takes on questions of the profane juxtaposed with the sacred, the humorous with the sublime, and the bold with the mysterious.

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Type: Commentary, online content
Source: Chris Ofili, Third Eye Vision (1999), from the website Global Positioning: Exploring Contemporary World Art, 2003.
Rights: Copyright 2003 Walker Art Center
Added to Site: March 1, 2009