"There is no such thing as a bad idea, but there is bad execution" Ofili

Chris Ofili’s quote, which is also the title of this post is a line that encourages me as an art student. I am person who likes to have an idea before I start anything. Whether its sculpture, painting or writing a creative piece, I am most motivated when I at least a vague idea of what I wish to express. Thanks to Ofili, I now know that I no longer have to waste time wondering if my idea is worthwhile. Instead I can stick to a specific idea and spend more time being concerned about how to make the final product signify what I am trying to say.

Ofili is a British artist whose work received world fame when he began to use Elephant dung in his work. There are a few reason why I love this about him.

  1. As suggested in the video, the Elephant dung was from Zimbabwe. This is therefore directly relevant to me.
  2. I can completely relate to Ofili’s use of weird material in his work because I recently realized that I love to mix non traditional materials with my paint. For example, I mixed soil, dirt and laundry lint in my gesso before I painted. I love the materiality of Ofili’s work, because I love materials that challenge flatness.
  3. Elephant dung is something that connects us to the past. This is because in Zimbabwe people have used cow dung  to cover the walls and floors of their house. After a while it does not smell. With urbanization, less and less people do this.

So I suppose that I don’t find dung disgusting, after all elephants are herbivores which makes their excrements less revolting. Dung is completely functional.

I learned that Ofili draws his ideas from his surroundings. It is therefore not surprise that he uses themes like death, sorrow, prostitution and  hip hop culture in his work.  I thought it was interesting how I could make out the faces of Lauren Hill Buster Rhymes in a few of his pieces.

I really liked Ofili’s Last Supper series with the monkeys. This is because I am currently trying to use monkeys to signify links between my grandfather and I. Family identity and oral history. Even though people may immediately think of monkeys as silly, mischievous animals I am trying to show them in a more respectful or ambiguous light. I don’t think Ofili’s monkeys in the Last Supper work are supposed to be completely ridiculing the famous scene.

Ofili reminds me of Peter Doig. I know that their work is extremely different in terms of style; however it is the way in which they work, and the things that they portray that enable me to compare them. First of all they both currently live in Trinidad.  When one looks at both of their work, after moving  to warmer climates, the light and the colors in their work intensified and became less cold.  This shows that where you live can affect your work.  As a side note, I am hoping that the work that I produce doesn’t become gloomy as the winter creeps in.

Both Doig and Ofili have referenced famous musicians in their paintings. They both claim that they like to constantly change style so that they don’t become predictable. They both inspire me to keep trying to produce strong work that can make people have at least a brief emotional attachment to my work.

This is an artist whose work I will continue to research as I develop my work.

2 thoughts on “"There is no such thing as a bad idea, but there is bad execution" Ofili

  1. YAY! I am so so glad that I remembered this guy. Wait, did I remember Ofili or did we just stumble upon him looking at images…. NO! I was thinking that you could use objects (relevant) to prop your work in that back exhibition space.

    which led me to Ofili, who is African, a much bigger linkage… ha!

    re:As a side note, I am hoping that the work that I produce doesn’t become gloomy as the winter creeps in…

    Your work has many formal aspects to it that are a bit dark anyway. I think that you are unable to make work that is not authentic to you, really… having seen you work for some time, that is.

    Finally in regard to the Ofili quote that you use here, I agree with this. There are no bad ideas. There are very cliched and half-baked ways to express these ideas. The real challenge in art is that there are always, literally, thousands of ways to execute a project to express one idea.

    I hope that you are currently on the train to Toronto. It is a beautiful day!

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