“Set against the backdrop of one of the most iconic symbols of Britain’s seafaring heritage, Yinka Shonibare’s ship, with its riot of colour, makes a powerful statement that will intrigue and inspire in equal measure. It is a stunning work, with history and culture from West Africa to East Asia, woven in its sails, much as the threads of those places and their people are woven in the fabric of the capital. It is also particularly timely, with its message of the complex relationship between Africa and Europe coming as Nigeria marks its 50th year of independence. This is clearly the work of an artist at the top of his game, and I’m sure Londoners will enjoy it greatly.” Boris Johnson, the Mayor of London
About Yinka Shonibare
Yinka Shonibare MBE was born in London and moved to Lagos, Nigeria at the age of three. He returned to London to study Fine Art first at Central Saint Martins College and then at Goldsmiths College, where he received his MFA, graduating as part of the ‘Young British Artists’ generation. He currently lives and works in the East End of London.
Over the past decade, Shonibare has become well known for his exploration of colonialism and post-colonialism within the contemporary context of globalisation. Shonibare’s work explores these issues, alongside those of race and class, through the media of painting, sculpture, photography and, most recently, film. Using this wide range of media, Shonibare examines in particular the construction of identity and tangled interrelationship between Africa and Europe and their respective economic and political histories. Mining Western art history and literature, he asks what constitutes contemporary African identity today. Having described himself as a ‘post-colonial’ hybrid, Shonibare questions the meaning of cultural and national definitions.
Shonibare was a Turner prize nominee in 2004 and awarded the decoration of Member of the “Most Excellent Order of the British Empire”. He has added this title to his professional name. He was notably commissioned by Okwui Enwezor At Documenta 10 in 2002 to create his most recognised work ‘Gallantry and Criminal Conversation’ that launched him on an international stage. He has exhibited at the Venice Biennial and internationally at leading museums worldwide. In September 2008, his major mid-career survey commenced at the MCA Sydney and toured to the Brooklyn Museum, New York in June 2009 and the Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC in October 2009.