Yinka Shonibare

GBR (1962). Lives and works in London.

La Méduse, 2008
C-print mounted on aluminum
182.8 x 238.7 cm

Using a variety of colors and textures as a hallmark, Yinka Shonibare touches on the problems of colonialism (in particular the tangled relationship between Africa and Europe) and the concepts of class and race in the contemporary context. Born to a Nigerian family, Shonibare began to use the so-called “African” fabrics in the nineties. In fact, the cloth is actually Dutch wax-printed cotton bought in London. He uses this colorful material as a metaphor of the great fallacy of the contemporary world that paradoxically attempts to build a collective identity.

He uses the idea of artificial construction and cultural hybrids that come to be considered authentic. Fabrics are used to create Victorian dresses which clothe aliens or are
stretched and glued to a canvas. For other pieces he reinterprets famous works of art or literature, inverting them conceptually into symbols of African culture.