Chris Ofili was the first painter to be awarded the Prize since Howard Hodgkin in 1985.
First time painter wins Turner in a decade
His sumptuous paintings proved extremely popular with critics and public alike. However, the resin-coated balls of elephant dung, on which the paintings were propped, inspired irreverent newspaper headlines. Visitor figures rose to 120,000 – an almost fifty percent increase on the previous year. The Prize’s growing popularity acknowledged its success in connecting with the wider public yet also created concern about over-exposure of the artists and their work.
- Ann Gallagher, Exhibition Officer, British Council
- Fumio Nanjo, curator and critic
- Neil Tennant, representative of the Patrons of New Art
- Marina Warner, author and critic
- Nicholas Serota, Director, Tate Gallery
Turner Prize 1998 in quotes
The way I work comes out of experimentation, but it also comes out of a love of painting, a love affair with painting.
Chris Ofili quoted in Twenty Years of the Turner Prize, 1998
Is this simply adolescent exhibitionism designed to annoy the grown-ups, or a subversive exploration of racial and sexual stereotypes? Probably a bit of both … If you can get past the shock tactics, these paintings have sharp things to say about ethnic identity in modern Britain.
Jane Burton, The Express, July 1998
Ofili’s paintings are not what some people would call proper painting … to break one or two rules of good taste is nothing special – but breaking so many at the same time; Ofili creates surfaces of apeculiar beauty and fascination. It is an art of excess.
Tom Lubbock, The Independent, 1998