Yinka Shonibare, MBE
Photo: Charlotte Player
Photo: Charlotte Player

b. 1962, London

Born in London, Yinka Shonibare, MBE, moved to Lagos at the age of three. He returned to London to take a BA in fine art from the Byam Shaw School of Art (now Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design), University of the Arts London, and, like many of the “Young British Artists,” completed his education at Goldsmiths College, University of London, where he received his MFA in 1991. He lives and works in the East End in London.

Working in a wide variety of mediums—from painting and sculpture to photography and, more recently, film and performance—Shonibare addresses issues of race, class, and colonialism/postcolonialism, particularly as they pertain to the complicated relationship between Europe and Africa. He is perhaps best known for his reproductions of iconic images from western art, history, and literature, subverted by the inclusion of African elements, often in the form of bold traditional fabrics.

Shonibare was nominated for the Turner Prize, Tate Gallery, London (2004), and was awarded the decoration of Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire (MBE) in 2008. He was commissioned to create one of his most recognized works, Gallantry and Criminal Conversation, for Documenta 11, Kassel, Germany (2002), and participated in the 3rd Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art (2009), 49th and 52nd Venice Biennales (2001, 2007), and 10th Biennale of Sydney (1996). A major mid-career survey of his work opened at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney (now the Museum of Contemporary Art, Australia; 2008, traveled). Other recent international solo exhibitions include Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle, Fourth Plinth, Trafalgar Square, London (2010); Jardin d’Amour, Museé du quai Branly, Paris (2007); and Yinka Shonibare: Double Dutch, Museum Boijmans Van Beuningen, Rotterdam (2004, traveled). Group exhibitions of his work include British Subjects: Identity and Self-Fashioning 1967–2009, Neuberger Museum of Art, Purchase, NY (2009); Ahistoric Occasion: Artists Making History, Massachusetts Museum of Contemporary Art, North Adams (2006); Africa Remix: Contemporary Art of a Continent, Museum Kunstpalast, Düsseldorf (2004, traveled); and The Short Century: Independence and Liberation Movements in Africa 1945–1994, Museum Villa Stuck, Munich (2001, traveled).