One of Britain’s best-known contemporary artists, Yinka Shonibare (b. 1962, London) spent his childhood between England and Nigeria. He settled permanently in London in the early 1980s, where he attended art school. Shonibare regards himself as a cultural hybrid, a product of complex and layered relationships forged by centuries of global trade, migration, politics, and cultural exchange. His work reflects these currents in ways that often playfully invite us to look beyond appearances and assumptions about identity.
Wind Sculpture (SG) I takes on the paradoxical task of manifesting the invisible. We can’t see wind, but we do see its effects. Here the dynamic movement of a piece of fabric in a gust of wind is rendered in solid fiberglass at monumental scale. The sculpture is the first in a “second generation” (SG) that extends the artist’s exploration of this theme. It reflects a new approach to design and fabrication, achieving remarkable energy and balance in a gravity-defying form. Painted to resemble West African fabric, it dazzles with color and voluptuous shape. It evokes a sense of freedom and possibility, which for the artist represents the originality of the hybrid. After all, what we now regard as traditional African cloth is based on Indonesian batik fabric first brought to Africa by Dutch traders in the 1800s. For Shonibare, and for Wind Sculpture (SG) I, identity is always a richly layered and dynamic set of relationships.
The exhibition is curated by Public Art Fund Director & Chief Curator Nicholas Baume.
Doris C. Freedman Plaza
Central Park, 60th Street & 5th Avenue
About the Artist
Yinka Shonibare MBE (b. 1962 London, UK) moved to Lagos, Nigeria at the age of three; he currently lives and works in the East End of London. He received his MFA from Goldsmiths College, graduating as part of the ‘Young British Artists’ generation. Through a variety of mediums, Shonibare’s work examines the implications of colonialism and post-colonialism in an interconnected world. In 2013, a major survey show was mounted at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, UK, and travelled in part to Royal Museums Greenwich/The Queen’s House, London, UK; GL Strand, Copenhagen, Denmark; Gda?ska Galeria Miejska, Gdansk, Poland; and Wroclaw Contemporary Museum, Wroclaw, Poland. In 2014, Shonibare was the subject of the first contemporary art exhibition at The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia. Shonibare was elected to membership in the Royal Academy in 2016. His work is included in many prestigious collections, including The Art Institute of Chicago; The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome, the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African Art and Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Tate Collection, London; VandenBroek Foundation, The Netherlands; Victoria and Albert Museum, London, among others. Shonibare was a Turner Prize nominee in 2004, and in 2005 he was awarded the decoration of Member of the “Most Excellent Order of the British Empire,” a title that he officially added onto his professional name. In 2010, the artist’s sculpture Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle was selected for the prestigious Fourth Plinth commission series in London’s Trafalgar Square and was on view until January, 2012. Following, the Royal Opera House, London, commissioned Globe Head Ballerina (2012) to be displayed outside the Royal Opera House, overlooking Russell Street in Covent Garden.