Yinka Shonibare always loved art and knew he wanted to be an artist from when he was a kid. Born in London, England, and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, Shonibare is drawn to mixing cultures, histories, ambiguities, incongruities, and influences together in his multi-disciplinary work.
Now Yinka’s art explores the relationship between Africa and Europe. He asks us to think twice about culture and history. His work includes painting, photography, dance, sculpture, and film, all celebrating many cultures all at once.
From clothing to paintings, to sculptures and installations like The British Library, many of his fantasy-fueled creations include Dutch wax-printed fabrics, a textile with a complex origin story. From Artnet:
For the artist, the material signifies issues of commerce, race, and politics, as it was produced by Europeans to be sold in Indonesia as a native style and subsequently became popular in West African countries. “My work addresses the idea of having this fusion or hybrid cultural identity and what that produces,” he explained. “People always want to categorize things: I’m much more interested in this idea of a hybrid.”
It was really when I was at art school that I started to see the relationship between history, philosophy, politics, and art. Prior to that, I thought that art was just making pretty pictures. I didn’t realize that, you know, actually, art is connected to, you know, life and it’s also connected to the imagination and folklore and, you know, and mythology and all those sort of things.
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