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Yinka Shonibare MBE RA

Born, 1962 in London, England

Yinka Shonibare was born in London, though biographical notes sometimes state, erroneously, that he was born in Nigeria.

Following two years of postgraduate study at Goldsmiths College, Yinka Shonibare was included in the prestigious Barclays Young Artist Award 1992, held at the Serpentine Gallery in London. This was the eighth year of the annual exhibition of London art school postgraduates shortlisted for this award. Along with Shonibare, the other shortlisted artists were: Richard Ducker, Janice Howard, Andrew Kearney, Gabriel Klasmer, Joanna Lawrance, Lisa Richardson, Stefan Shankland, and Mari Tachikawa. Though five of these artists were apparently “not British in terms of birthplace or ethnicity,” Elsbeth Court (who reviewed the exhibition for African arts magazine) also claimed that Shonibare was “the first non-European selected to be a finalist.” The significance of Shonibare’s inclusion in the exhibition cannot easily be overstated. More than a decade and a half after the Barclays Young Artist Award 1992, Shonibare was asked, in an interview for the Guardian to describe what his big breakthrough was. He replied: “Winning a Barclays Young Artist award in 1992. It got me noticed.”

Taken from the flyleaf of Jardin d’amour Musée du quai Branly, Paris/Flammarion, Paris 2007: “Born in London and raised in Nigeria, Yinka Shonibare MBE lives in London and is recognised as a leading artist of his generation. A Member of the Order of the British Empire (MBE), Shonibare describes himself as a hybrid heir to post-colonial globalisation.”

Taken from the second preface to Yinka Shonibare’s Be-Muse catalogue: “Shonibare’s diverse practice involves the exploration of a range of concepts - of identity, class, race, the “other”, colonialism - tackling critically the many and varied layers of contemporary culture. Moreover, he has made a significant contribution to the visual arts in Britain over the recent years and his work is a fundamental key to the understanding of the UK as a nation that embraces its cultural plurailty.”

From the archived Documenta 11 website : www.documenta12.de//archiv/d11/data/english/index.html:Yinka Shonibare’s objects and installations form a complex field made up of historical, art historical, cultural, and economic references, thus bringing fundamental claims of cultural authenticity into question. In some of his more recent works, Shonibare deals with culturally charged frames of reference, by reproducing interiors, famous portraits, and genre paintings from England’s Victorian era and covering them in African fabrics. The fabric’s colorful, ornamental patterns awaken immediate associations with authenticity and exoticism. Yet its complex history makes it clear that what is a supposedly authentic, symbolic quality is already a construction marked by the trading routes of the colonial powers.”

Courtney J. Martin, who at the time was a doctoral candidate at Yale University, wrote about Shonibare and his Diary of a Victorian Dandy in a chapter for “Black” British Aesthetics Today, published by: Cambridge Scholars Publishing, 2007. The chapter was titled ‘The Twentieth-Century Dandy as Cultural Provocateur: Yinka Shonibare, MBE, and the Diary of a Victorian Dandy’. The article was illustrated with five monochrome reproductions of the ‘Diary of a Victorian Dandy’

Along with Kutlug Ataman, Jeremy Deller, and Langlands & Bell, Yinka Shonibare was shortlisted for the Turner Prize 2004. The award was, in due course, made to Jeremy Deller. Shonibare was shortlisted “For his sculptural installations in which he continues to use African fabric to subvert conventional readings of cultural identity, as seen in his exhibition Double Dutch at the Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam, and in his solo show at Stephen Friedman Gallery, London.” (From the introduction to the Turner Prize catalogue, 2004, Tate Publishing, London).

His website is www.yinkashonibarembe.com.

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Paris, France

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Norwich, United Kingdom