British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare is known for exploring cultural identity, race and the legacy of colonialism using diverse artistic media. His studio describes Shonibare’s work as follows:
His interdisciplinary practice uses citations of Western art history and literature to question the validity of contemporary cultural and national identities within the context of globalisation. Through examining race, class and the construction of cultural identity, his works comment on the tangled interrelationship between Africa and Europe, and their respective economic and political histories. – Yinka Shonibare
Yinka Shonibare employs painting, sculpture, photography, film and installation, but is particularly known for using batik fabric in costumed dioramas that is intended to question our notions of authenticity. Batik was originally inspired by Indonesian design, mass-produced by the Dutch and eventually enthusiastically adopted in the West African colonies. In the 1960s, it became known as “African” cloth and transcended into a signifier of African identity and independence. Because he has a physical disability that paralyses one side of his body, Yinka Shonibare uses assistants to make works under his direction. He has exhibited at the Venice Biennale, documenta and at leading museums worldwide. Among his awards are Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) (2019), Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) (2005), a fellowship at Goldsmith’s College (2003). His work is included in notable museum collections including Tate (London), the National Museum of African Art, the Smithsonian Institute (Washington D.C.) and the Museum of Modern Art (New York) among others. Yinka Shonibare CBE RA was born in 1962 in London, England and moved to Lagos, Nigeria at the age of three. He lives and works in London.