Bowdoin College Museum of Art

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Image of Black Shunga 30074



Chris Ofili


Black Shunga

Creation Date



early 21st century


26 1/2 x 17 1/2 in. (67.31 x 44.45 cm)

Object Type


Creation Place

Europe, British

Medium and Support

line etching on paper

Credit Line

Museum Purchase, Barbara Cooney Porter Fund


This artwork may be under copyright. For further information, please consult the Museum’s Copyright Terms and Conditions.

Accession Number

Chris Ofili’s Black Shunga portfolio raises questions about perception and visual resolution on literal and metaphorical levels. Challenging our sense of the familiar, the work’s layers of deep shades of blue on a silver-hued ground evoke what the artist describes as a “moonlike glow … not dark nor light, everything is reflecting back.” As our eyes slowly adjust, frolicking figures emerge, engaged in the intimate encounters suggested by the work’s title, an allusion to erotic nineteenth-century Japanese shunga prints. Just as Ofili’s prints grow out of a fusion of cultures, so too scenes of pleasure both combine with and emerge from the work’s surface in a gradual revelation akin to the joyful dawning of creative insight or inspiration.

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