Exhibition | Yinka Shonibare CBE: End of Empire

Posted in books, catalogues, exhibitions by Editor on March 21, 2021

Yinka Shonibare CBE, End of Empire, 2016; fiberglass mannequins, Dutch wax printed cotton textile, metal, wood, motor, globes, and leather; 116 × 201 × 39 inches.

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Opening this spring at the Museum der Moderne:

Yinka Shonibare CBE: End of Empire
Museum der Moderne, Salzburg, 22 May — 12 September 2021

Curated by Thorsten Sadowsky and Marijana Schneider

One of the most prominent and versatile artists working in the UK today, Yinka Shonibare CBE (b. London, 1962) makes work that scrutinizes the legacy of Western colonialism and its lingering traces. The British-Nigerian artist rose to renown with installations featuring headless life-sized figures in historic costumes tailored out of colorful batik-dyed fabrics. A self-described ‘postcolonial hybrid’, Shonibare zooms in on episodes from art and history, primarily from eighteenth- and nineteenth-century Europe, employing subversive creative strategies to visualize them in tragicomic scenes of human activity. Shonibare’s multimedia oeuvre probes constructions of race, class, and national and cultural identities through a sustained study of the historic interdependencies between Africa and Europe. The retrospective gathers ca. sixty works from the past thirty years.

The catalogue is distributed in North American by The University of Chicago Press:

Thorsten Sadowsky, ed., Yinka Shonibare CBE: End of Empire (Munich: Hirmer Publishers, 2021), 256 pages, ISBN: 978-3777435893, $45.

Since the 1990s, the British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare CBE has developed opulently executed sculptures and installations, colorful collages, and theatrically staged photographs and films. The signature material in Yinka Shonibare’s multimedia artworks, so-called African fabric, is a cipher. Originally produced in Manchester and intended for sale in Indonesia, the brightly colored fabric gained its name after British imperialists shifted their focus to colonial Africa. Featuring this product of both colonization and self-identification, Shonibare’s sculptures and installations revisit the conflicted legacy of many historical artifacts in order to explore the complex hybridity of postcolonial life with unique irony. Illustrated by two hundred full-color reproductions of his work, Yinka Shonibare CBE: End of Empire offers an up-close encounter with the tensions and history that motivate this singular artist, tracing colonialism and its consequences for leaders, worldviews, and body images in his oeuvre.

Thorsten Sadowsky is director of the Museum der Moderne in Salzburg, Austria.


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