In the past two months, we have been looking at universal patterns
in ancient cultures that are still utilized today in art and design. There is not a better example of putting a modern face to an Ancient culture than Yinka Shonibare, the British artist of Nigerian heritage. He was born in London and raised in Nigeria, and returned to England to study art but contracted transverse myelitis soon after, resulting in paralysis. After spending a year in the hospital, he entered art school. Known for his examination of cultural authenticity, identity, and power relations, he has gone on to become one of the world's most influential artists. With a foot in two worlds, he explores his cultural identity with poignant interpretations, mixing heavy commentary on globalization, and colonialism. Africa is a vast continent with many different cultures with the connecting thread being the unique hand-printed batik fabrics that have become known as "Africa cloth". They were originally imported by the Dutch and have become a major symbol of African identity. His sculptures and tableaus juxtapose fabrics and integrate them into his satires on classical European art history as well as his large scale billowing sculptures.
He has been widely exhibited and his work is in many museum collections including MOMA, and the Tate Modern. Among his awards are Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) (2019), Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE) (2005), a fellowship at Goldsmith’s College (2003), and the Art for Architecture Award, Royal Society of Arts (1998). Shonibare was nominated for the Turner Prize (2004). His work has appeared at the Venice Biennale (2001). If you are interested in seeing more of his work, click on the link below.