Yinka Shonibare CBE RA
Born in London in 1962, Yinka Shonibare moved to Lagos, Nigeria, at age three. He returned to the UK to study fine arts at the Byam Shaw School of Art in London, and Goldsmiths, University of London, where he received his MFA. Shonibare’s work examines the interrelationship of African and European economic and political histories, colonialism, post-colonialism, and globalization. Much of his work uses brightly colored Dutch wax batik fabric, which was inspired by Indonesian design, mass-produced by the Dutch, and then sold to the colonies in West Africa. In the 1960s, the material became a symbol of African identity and independence. As Shonibare has stated, “Based on the history of the fabrics, I wanted to actually evoke that connection between Asia, Africa and Europe—and of course the diaspora in the United States.”
Wind Sculpture (SG) V was acquired by Harvard Business School in 2021 for the C. Ludens Ringnes Sculpture Collection. In this work, Shonibare employs Dutch wax textiles to visualize the idea of capturing the volume of wind. Constructed of industrial materials, the monumental, hand-painted 22-foot-high sculpture is based on photographs of wind being blown into the actual batik fabrics. Shonibare has expressed his aim with the Wind Sculpture series: “I wanted to defy gravity. To do something that actually looks soft, but it’s made out of hard materials, like fiberglass and metal.” Wind Sculpture (SG) V previously was installed on the Rose Kennedy Greenway in Boston, and other sculptures from the series have been installed in locations around the world, including Trafalgar Square, London; Central Park, New York; Ndubuisi Kanu Park, Lagos, Nigeria; Smithsonian National Museum of African Art, Washington, DC; and Davidson College, North Carolina.
Nominated for the Turner Prize in 2004, Shonibare was also featured in the 52nd Venice Biennale in 2007. He was elected a Royal Academician (RA) in 2013, and in 2019 was awarded the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE). His sculptures are in the collections of the Victoria and Albert Museum, London; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; Tate Collection, London; and VandenBroek Foundation, The Netherlands. He is represented by James Cohan Gallery in New York and Stephen Friedman Gallery in London.