Over the past two decades, Yinka Shonibare MBE has become well known for his exploration of colonialism and postcolonialism within the contemporary context of globalization. Working in painting, sculpture, photography, film and performance, Shonibare’s work examines race, class and the construction of cultural identity through sharp political commentary of the tangled interrelationship between Africa and Europe and their respective economic and political histories. Having described himself as a postcolonial hybrid, Shonibare uses wry citations of Western art history and literature to question the validity of contemporary cultural and national identities.
Yinka Shonibare MBE (born 1962 in London, UK) moved to Lagos, Nigeria at the age of three. He returned to London to study Fine Art first at the Byam Shaw College of Art (now Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design) and then at Goldsmiths College, where he received his MFA, graduating as part of the ‘Young British Artists’ generation. He gained notoriety on the international stage via his commission for Okwui Enwezor’s Documenta 10, Gallantry and Criminal Conversation (2002), and was a Turner Prize nominee in 2004. In 2005 he was awarded the decoration of Member of the “Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, a title that he officially added on his professional name. His works were featured in the 52nd Biennale di Venezia (2007) and a major mid-career survey toured from 2008–09 at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, Australia; the Brooklyn Museum, New York; and the Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC. In 2011, the artist’s sculpture Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle was selected for the prestigious Fourth Plinth commission series in London’s Trafalgar Square. In 2013, a major survey show was mounted at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, UK, and travelled in part to Royal Museums Greenwich/The Queen’s House, London, UK; GL Strand, Copenhagen, Denmark; Gdańska Galeria Miejska, Gdansk, Poland; and Wroclaw Contemporary Museum, Wroclaw, Poland. In 2014, Shonibare was the subject of the first contemporary art exhibition at The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, PA. Shonibare was elected to membership in the Royal Academy in 2016.
Shonibare’s work is included in many prestigious collections, including Arts Council Collection, UK; The Art Institute of Chicago; The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C; The Israel Museum, Jerusalem; Magasin 3 and Modern Museet, Stockholm; MCA, Chicago; Museum of Modern Art, NY; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; National Gallery of Modern Art, Rome; National Gallery of Victoria, Melbourne, AU; Newark Museum, New Jersey; the Smithsonian Institutes National Museum of African Art and Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, RISD Museum, Providence; San Francisco MoMA; MFA Boston; North Carolina Museum of Art, Raleigh; Davis Museum, Wellesley College; Nouveau Musée National de Monaco; Scottish National Gallery, Edinburgh; Seattle Art Museum; Speed Art Museum, Louisville; New Orleans Museum of Art; Tate, London; Toledo Museum of Art, Ohio; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Wroclaw Contemporary Museum, Poland; and Walker Arts Center, Minneapolis. Yinka Shonibare MBE currently lives and works in the East End of London.