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With a rich-patterned surface teeming with earthy glow, 'Painting with Shit on It' occupies a somewhat pivotal place in Chris Ofili's early work, allowing him to continue a long-term love affair with painting and, one might suggest, with beauty. The year when it was painted, 1993, was fundamental in the development of Ofili's work and its uneasy integration of black culture, painting, dung, the sacred and the profane and the glistening appeal of decoration; and many of these elements meet in this particular work. The mythology surrounding this painting is rich and confusing, beginning in the previous year, when Ofili was still a student at the Royal College of Art, London. He took a British Council sponsored trip to Zimbabwe, picking up on both the sacred nature of elephant dung in the country, and also on the excessively rich dot technique used in the cave paintings of the Matopos Hills.
oil, polyester resin, pigment & elephant dung on canvas
H 182.5 x W 123 cm
purchased from Anthony Wilkinson Fine Art, 1994