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Yinka Shonibare CBE

One of the most prolific artists of his generation, Yinka Shonibare CBE explores issues of race and class through the media of painting, sculpture, photography, and film.  His work comments on the relationship between Africa and Europe, and the formation of cultural identities within a globalised world. Yinka Shonibare CBE was born in 1962 in London and moved to Lagos, Nigeria at the age of three. He returned to London to study art first at Central Saint Martins College and then at Goldsmiths, where he received his master’s in fine arts.    

He was commissioned by Okwui Enwezor at Documenta in 2002 to create Gallantry and Criminal Conversation, the work that launched him on the international stage. His Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle was displayed in London’s Trafalgar Square. It was the first such commission by a black British artist and was part of a national fundraising campaign organized by the Art Fund and the National Maritime Museum; it is now permanently displayed outside the museum’s new entrance in London. In 2012, the Royal Opera House commissioned his Globe Head Ballerina. The life-sized ballerina encased within a giant snow globe spins slowly as if caught mid-dance.   

Shonibare has also exhibited globally at institutions including the Frederick Meijer Gardens and Sculpture Park, Michigan, the British Museum, London, UK and the Serpentine, London UK. In 2024, the Serpentine presented a solo exhibition of works in their Serpentine South gallery.  His work is featured in the Venice Biennale 2024 as part of the Nigerian Pavilion.  For the Sharjah Biennale’s 30th anniversary, Shonibare was commissioned to create a series of new works. He recently unveiled a new outdoor sculpture commissioned by the David Oluwale Memorial Association in Aire Park, Leeds as part of Leeds 2023.  

Shonibare’s works is also in prominent institutions, including the Tate, London UK, the Victoria & Albert Museum, London UK, the Galleria Nazionale d’Arte Moderna, Rome Italy, Fukuoka Art Museum, Japan, and the VandenBroek Foundation, the Netherlands.  

Shonibare was a Turner Prize nominee in 2004, the same year he was awarded the decoration of Member of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire, or MBE, and in 2019 he received the Commander of the Order of the British Empire, or CBE. 

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