Yinka Shonibare is a familiar name to many of us. His artwork constantly challenges the establishment and those within. As a modern British / Nigerian artist, Shonibare’s work embraces and challenges diversity and allows us to reflect on the positive effects that difference can bring.
It is this positive approach to difference that I find so admirable and inspiring. Shonibare says “Most prejudice actually comes from ignorance – it’s really because people don’t understand each other and they are scared. But by exposing people to other cultures and other ways of doing things, it expands their horizons and their imaginations as well – that’s what I’m trying to do in my work”.
He strives to use his art works to inform and educate and encourage others to embrace their identity – not to conform or hide.Shonibare is generous in his support of young artists from minority backgrounds. By sharing his success, he allows others, just beginning their creative journey to benefit from his resources; a gallery space in his London studio and a foundation in Lagos all contribute to allowing young artists to be heard and be proactive in directing their own destiny and shaping today’s art world.
Shonibare has a powerful list of questions that we as artists should all ask ourselves:
How did I get here?
What are my origins?
Why do I do the work?
What do I want to say?
These are important points of reference that I will certainly continue to ponder!
Shonibare explores complex themes of diversity, cultural identity, colonialism and post-colonialism within the contemporary context of globalism. However, his consideration of form is an ever changing, widening feature of his work. He stresses that the form is the vehicle by which a message is conveyed and each idea requires the correct match. Therefore, we see a huge range of materials, scale and presentation techniques to immortalise his reoccuring themes.
works by Yinka Shonibare: