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Of Dung and Paint

Posted by Suchaita Tenneti on 2011-04-13

Art student Chris Ofili was on a safari in Zimbabwe hoping to catch a glimpse of the great African elephants. But Lady Luck had other plans for him. He didn’t see a single elephant but he did see piles of elephant dung! Gross right? But being a crazy artist, Ofili hopped off the jeep to inspect it. “Hmm,” he thought, “this will stick well on canvass.” Then began an incredible journey! Ofili began to create beautiful paintings and sculptures out of elephant dung! Talk about recycling, right?

Chris Ofili is a British artist of Nigerian descent. He hoped to represent his African heritage in his art. While studying cave paintings in Zimbabwe, he discovered art in elephant dung and rose to fame at the Royal Academy of Art’s 1997 exhibition Sensation.. Ofili uses the dung in several ways. He smears it onto his canvass or combines it with glitter, paint and other materials to form a collage. He even uses it as a stand for a painting. And don’t forget the dung statues!

But Ofili isn’t simply showing off. He pays close attention to color, texture and fine details that many modern painters ignore. He also uses elephant dung to talk about social problems in a humorous manner. Quite a bold method of communication! He was awarded the renowned Turner Prize for his work. Today his art is displayed at the Tate gallery, England. He claims that he felt this strong urge to create and just followed his heart!

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