Yinka Shonibare CBE (RA) was born in London in 1962 and moved to Lagos, Nigeria at the age of three. He returned to the UK to study Fine Art at Byam Shaw School of Art, London and Goldsmiths College, London, where he received his Master’s in Fine Art.
Over the past decades, Shonibare has become well known for his exploration of colonialism and post-colonialism within the contemporary context of globalization. Working in painting, sculpture, photography, film and installation, Shonibare’s work examines race, class and the construction of cultural identity through a sharp political commentary of the tangled interrelationship between Africa and Europe and their respective economic and political histories. Shonibare uses wry citations of Western art history and literature to question the validity of contemporary cultural and national identities.
In 2002, Shonibare was commissioned by Okwui Enwezor to create one of his most recognised installations, Gallantry and Criminal Conversation for Documenta XI. In 2004, he was nominated for the Turner Prize and was awarded the decoration of Member of the ‘Most Excellent Order of the British Empire’, or MBE. In 2019 Shonibare was made Commander of the same order, amending his professional name to include CBE. In 2008, his mid-career survey commenced at Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney and toured to the Brooklyn Museum, New York and the Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C. In 2010, his first public art commission Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle was displayed on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, London.
In 2013, Shonibare was elected as a Royal Academician and his most recent contributions have included: the RA Family Album, which was used to wrap Burlington Gardens building during construction and his two curated rooms which were part of the 2017 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, during which Wind Sculpture VI was also displayed in the RA courtyard.
His recent major commission with the Public Art Fund, Wind Sculpture (SG) I, was installed at Doris C. Freedman Plaza, Central Park from March 7 through October 14, 2018. FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art presented The American Library at the Cleveland Public Library from July 14 until September 30, 2018.
Shonibare’s works are included in notable collections internationally, including the Tate Collection, London; Victoria and Albert Museum, London; National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institution, Washington, D.C; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome; Pérez Art Museum Miami in Florida and VandenBroek Foundation, The Netherlands.