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Yinka Shonibare

  • CountryUnited Kingdom
  • Born1962


Yinka Shonibare’s works explore the issues of postcolonialism, national and racial identity, and class through the media of painting, sculpture, photography and film. His works often draw subjects from Western art history and literature, which are then executed in his trademark material – the brightly coloured African ‘batik’ fabric. By mixing disparate cultural references, his work questions the meaning of cultural and national definitions, particularly, the tangled interrelationship between Africa and Europe.

Shonibare’s work Dysfunctional Family, 1999 was shown in Iniva’s touring exhibition ‘Alien Nation’, organised in collaboration with ICA in 2007. The exhibition that focused on the themes of ‘otherness’ and ‘difference’ through the language and iconography of science fiction was accompanied by the publication, Alien Nation co-produced by Iniva. In 1998, Iniva commissioned his photographic series, ‘Diary of a Victorian Dandy’ at poster sites in London Underground stations, which were shortlisted for Deutsche Börse Photography Prize in 1999. The photographs showed the artist dressed up as black dandy in scenes reminiscent of A Rake’s Progress by William Hogarth.

Born in London, Shonibare was raised in Lagos, Nigeria. He returned to London to study Fine Art, first at Byam Shaw School of Art and then at Goldsmiths University. He has participated in numerous solo and group shows across the world and his works have been acquired by national collections worldwide, including Tate, V&A, Smithsonian Institution, Washington and Museum of Modern Art, New York. Shonibare’s work, Gallantry and Criminal Conversation was commissioned by Okwui Enwezor for Documenta 11, Kassel, in 2002. His work British Library, 2014 has been included in the Diaspora Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale, 2017.

Among his many achievements are a Turner Prize nomination and an MBE award in 2004. Shonibare was also the first Black artist to win the Fourth Plinth Commission for Trafalgar Square in 2010 with his work Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle, which was acquired by the National Maritime Museum in 2012 for permanent display outside the museum’s entrance in Greenwich, London. He was elected a Royal Academician in 2013.

He lives and works in London.

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