Yinka Shonibare CBE (RA)

FOCUS: Yinka Shonibare, MBE, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas, USA 2013

January 13th - March 24th 2013

The Modern's Director's Council FOCUS season begins with two solo exhibitions to run concurrently, one featuring the work of British/Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare MBE and the other featuring the work of New York-based artist Gary Simmons.


Shonibare explores colonialism and the intricate ways in which it has shaped, and continues to shape, cultural identities. He is well known for his life-size sculptural tableaux featuring staged, headless mannequins dressed in elaborate period garments. In these works, the materials and designs of the original clothing are replaced with batik, a colorful and ornately patterned fabric. The story of batik itself speaks to the notion of colonization and its effects: it originated in Indonesia; then, by way of imperial explorers, it was introduced to West Africa, where it was appropriated and now has its strongest associations; and indeed its greatest exporters are not in Africa at all, but are Dutch and British. By presenting his version of historical (often white, European) figures dressed in batik, Shonibare "Africanizes" the subjects, subversively pointing out a multitude of deep-rooted mythologies, falsehoods, and prejudices that complicate the dominant narrative of history and identity.


©2021. All images are property of Yinka Shonibare CBE (RA).