Born in London of Nigerian parents in 1962. When he was three years of age the family moved back to their home country; he returned to London in his late teens, going on to study fine art at the Byam Shaw College of Art (1984-89) and Goldsmith’s College (1989-91).
His work employs a wide range of media, including painting, sculpture, photography, film, and performance art, and typically explores issues of colonialism, race and class. The relationship between Africa and Europe in particular and its influence on the development of cultural identity is a regular theme.
A notable feature of Shonibare’s sculptural pieces is the use of brightly coloured fabrics - which appear to be typically African but are in fact produced in Holland (see link below to his 2013 FABRIC-ATION exhibition at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park).
His work often makes art-historical reference to artists and works from the past, such as Hogarth’s ‘The Rake’s Progress’ (Diary of a Victorian Dandy, 1998), Gainsborough’s ‘Mr and Mrs Andrews’ (Mr and Mrs Andrews Without Their Heads, 1998) and Raeburn’s ‘The Reverend Robert Walker Skating’ (Reverend on Ice, 2005). His Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle was a popular commission for the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square 2012-14 (now in the permanent collection of the National Maritime Museum in Greenwich).
In 2004 Shonibare was a Turner Prize nominee and in the same year awarded the MBE; he was elected a Royal Academician by the RA in 2013.
YSP link: www.ysp.co.uk/exhibitions/yinka-shonibare-mbe-fabric-ation