Chris Ofili

Chris Oflili Blossom 1997 painting of a black female figure with one breast exposed
Blossom, 1997

Shown above is one of Chris Ofili’s paintings, “Blossom.” Ofili’s paintings strike me as having an extremely distinct and unique style. I suppose we could classify this piece as a portrait, however the person here does not suggest a real person more than it suggests a character; or an impression of a person. Look at the striking blue outline – this is such an interesting colour choice, and it gives the piece a whole new layer; a whole new brightness, that distorts her representation into the realm of the dream-like. To me, the distorted representation of her is caricature-like, surreal, and suggestive of something more than what is on the surface, as if she is a goddess, or some kind spirit. The background is a wash of colours that seem to have come from nature, yet are presented in a very super-natural way. The blue outline washes over it all, making the plants glow and stand out. You can see in parts of the background, particularly around the edges, where some of the paint has dripped and flowed outwards. This brings the viewer closer to the painting process, whereas other elements simultaneously take them further away (such as that striking blue outline.) As this painting is so meticulously out-there, unusual, and free from restriction, it makes sense that it spills out of the domain of 2-dimensional into 3-dimensional. The black objects spelling out the word “Blossom” inject the first sense of text and order into the painting. It is a painting of dualities; opposites – neat and messy, real and surreal, 2-D and 3-D…even her garments illustrate this duality; covered and uncovered.

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