Yinka Shonibare RA

Yinka Shonibare RA

Yinka Shonibare RA is a British-Nigerian artist whose work explores cultural identity, colonialism and post-colonialism. His Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle was exhibited on the Fourth Plinth in 2010 and is now on display at National Maritime Museum.

Artist profile

Yinka Shonibare RA was born in London, in 1962 and moved to Lagos, Nigeria at the age of three. He returned to the UK to study Fine Art at Byam Shaw School of Art, London and Goldsmiths College, London, where he received his Masters in Fine Art.

Over the past decade, he has become well known for his exploration of colonialism and post-colonialism within the contemporary context of globalization. Working in painting, sculpture, photography, film and installation, Shonibare’s work examines race, class and the construction of cultural identity through sharp political commentary of the tangled interrelationship between Africa and Europe and their respective economic and political histories. Shonibare uses wry citations of Western art history and literature to question the validity of contemporary cultural and national identities.

In 2002, he was commissioned by Okwui Enwezor to create one of his most recognised installations, Gallantry and Criminal Conversation for Documenta XI. In 2004, he was nominated for the Turner Prize and in 2008, his mid-career survey commenced at Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney and toured to the Brooklyn Museum, New York and the Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C. In 2010, his first public art commission Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle was displayed on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, London.

In 2013 he was elected a Royal Academician and his most recent contributions have  included  the RA Family Album, which  was used to wrap Burlington Gardens during construction; his curated room as part of the 2017 Royal Academy Summer Exhibition, during which Wind Sculpture VI was also displayed in the RA courtyard.

His forthcoming new commission with the Public Art Fund, Wind Sculpture (SG) I, will open at Doris C. Freedman Plaza, Central Park from 7 March until 14 October 2018.

His work is included in notable museum collections including Tate, London; the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C.; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Moderna Museet, Stockholm and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago among others.