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Yinka Shonibare

  • CountryUnited Kingdom
  • Born1962


Yinka Shonibare MBE RA’s work explores issues of post-colonialism, national and racial identity and class through the media of painting, sculpture, installation, photography and film. His work often draws on subjects from Western art history and literature, which are executed in his trademark material: African batik fabric. By mixing disparate references, his work questions cultural and national definitions, particularly in the tangled interrelationship between Africa and Europe.

Among his many achievements are a Turner Prize nomination and an MBE award. Shonibare’s work Dysfunctional Family (1999) was shown in Iniva’s touring exhibition ‘Alien Nation’, organised in collaboration with the ICA in 2007. The exhibition was accompanied by the publication Alien Nation. 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. 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 later acquired by the National Maritime Museum in London for permanent display. In 2013, Shonibare and Chris Dercon, the then Director of Tate Modern, launched Iniva’s Commissions and Exhibitions Fund. The same year he was elected a Royal Academician, he began his fibreglass resin Wind Sculptures series, one of which was unveiled at the entrance to Central Park, New York in March 2018.

He has participated in numerous solo and group shows globally and his works have been acquired by national collections worldwide, including Tate, V&A, Smithsonian Institution, Washington and Museum of Modern Art, New York. His work British Library (2014) was included in the Diaspora Pavilion at the 57th Venice Biennale in 2017.

Shonibare was born in London and raised in Lagos, Nigeria. He returned to London to study A-levels and fine art: first at Byam Shaw School of Art (Central Saint Martins College), then at Goldsmiths University. He lives and works in London.

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