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The Kid Should See This

How did Yinka Shonibare become an artist?

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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.

This animated Tate Kids video shares Yinka Shonibare’s story, and asks, “Could you make an artwork that celebrates being a citizen of the world?”

Yinka Shonibare

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.”

Yinka Shonibare as a kid
Mixing cultures and influences
The TateShots video below shares more from the artist in his East London studio. He talks about his Guest Projects program and the origins of his work:

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.

Watch these related artist videos next:
How did Etel Adnan decide to become an artist?
Georgia O’Keeffe doesn’t care what you think
• A New Republic: The portrait work of artist Kehinde Wiley
• Xu Zhen’s In Just a Blink of an Eye
• Sonia Boyce, Barbara Hepworth, Yayoi Kusama, Georgia O’Keefe, and Dayanita Singh: 5 Women Artists’ Stories

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