James Cohan is pleased to present Boomerang: Returning to African Abstraction, a solo exhibition by Yinka Shonibare CBE RA featuring new hand-painted bronze sculptures, quilt works, and the premiere of the artist’s first tapestry. The exhibition will be on view from October 26 through December 22 at the gallery’s 48 Walker Street location. This is Shonibare’s eighth solo exhibition with James Cohan. The gallery will host an opening reception with the artist on Thursday, October 26 from 6-8 PM. A conversation between Shonibare and Donna Honarpisheh, Associate Curator of Modern and Contemporary Art and Research at ICA Miami, will take place at 5 PM on Friday, October 27.
Stretched and framed like paintings, Shonibare’s new series of pictorial quilts, Abstract Spiritual, appropriates African artworks owned or referenced by European modernist artists including Pablo Picasso, Andre Derain, Tristan Tzara, Constantin Brancusi, and Francis Picabia, among others. The African works hover amidst abstract backgrounds that interweave the artist’s signature Dutch wax textiles with a diamond motif recalling both the quilts of Gee’s Bend and Picasso’s Harlequin paintings. In this way, they point to the foundational influence of African and African Diasporic art in the development of abstraction within the Western-European art historical canon.
Shonibare’s first tapestry to date, Modern Spiritual (Fang Ngil, Kumbaduba), similarly explores the African aesthetic roots of European modernist abstraction. Woven in collaboration with Dovecot Studios in Edinburgh, the work depicts masks referenced by Francis Picabia, now held in the Louvre’s collection. Materially, the work refers back to the Modernist era, which saw a resurgence in the tapestry medium by artists including Matisse and Joan Miró. The artist says of these new textile works, “In Boomerang I am conveying the origins of abstraction in African artifacts and the pivotal role [African artists] played in the development of Western modernist abstraction. My motivation is to acknowledge the contribution of African abstraction to the global language of modernist abstraction.”