Born in London in 1962, Shonibare’s work explores issues of race and class through the media of painting, sculpture, photography and film. The artist uses wry citations of Western art history and literature to question the validity of contemporary cultural and national identities. His trademark material is the brightly coloured ‘African’ batik fabric, which was inspired by Indonesian design, mass-produced by the Dutch and eventually sold to the colonies in West Africa. In the 1960s the material became a new sign of African identity and independence. Nominated for the Turner Prize in 2004, Shonibare’s mid-career survey commenced at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, in 2008, touring to New York and Washington D.C. In 2010, his first public art commission, Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle was displayed on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, London. His installation The British Library was acquired by Tate in 2019.
Recent solo presentations include Justice for All, The Arts House, Singapore; Radical Hybridity, M Woods, Beijing (2020) and Wind Sculpture V, Rose Kennedy Greenway, Boston (all 2020).
The Hepworth Wakefield has shown work by Yinka Shonibare CBE in the 2019 exhibition Magdalene Odundo: The Journey of Things. The artist has generously taken part in the fourth edition of School Prints, creating a limited edition print that will be donated to local schools and sold exclusively from The Hepworth Wakefield shop to fund the engagement work with schools.