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Yinka Shonibare CBE: Biography of An Award Winning British-Nigerian Artist.

Yinka Shonibare

Yinka Shonibare CBE is an award-winning British-Nigerian artist based in the United Kingdom. His artworks are focused on issues of race and class which earned him the name “political artist”. He reflects his thoughts through painting, sculpture, photography, and filming.

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Yinka Shonibare Background.

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Yinka Shonibare CBE was born in London in the year 1962. At age three, his family moved to Lagos, Nigeria. His love for art made him go back to London for his studies. He left Nigeria to attend Redrice School Britain for his A-level studies at age 17.

Few weeks after his classes at Redrice began, he got infected by the transverse myelitis disease; an inflammation of the spinal cord, resulting in partial paralysis of one part of his body.

After his A-level studies, he went to Byam Shaw School of Art (now Central Saint Martins College of Art and Design) to study Fine Arts. Shonibare exhibited his first artwork at the Byam Shaw Gallery in 1989. On concluding his studies at Byam, he went for his M.F.A at the Goldsmiths University of London.

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Yinka Shonibare Art Style.

Yinka Shonibare’s work explores issues of colonialism, race and class, examining the identity and interrelationship between Africa and Europe as well as their economic and political histories. He draws his inspiration to continue creating artwork from the fact that people appreciate and take his work seriously.

Although, he is disabled, it does not stop his mind from working and imagining the impossible. His work is brought to life with help of assistants that create the art with his instructions, directions and supervision.

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Beginning from 1990, Shonibare has been using brightly coloured “African” fabric otherwise known as Dutch wax-printed cotton. He buys the fabrics from Brixton market in London. His continuous use of these fabrics on all his artworks has made it his trademark.

He recreates stories and paintings of popular British artists. He would act like the character in the artwork then recreate everything photographically. Some of such works include the Diary of a Victorian Dandy and the Dorian Gray photographic series.

Yinka Shonibare’s Career.

Yinka Shonibare got a job as an arts development officer for Shape Arts – an organization that gives disabled people access to exhibit their artworks. He got the job after he finished his master’s course at the Goldsmith University of London.

He exhibited his works at Venice Biennial and other leading museums worldwide. Okwui Enwezor commissioned the work ‘Gallantry and Criminal Conversation’ at Documenta XI in 2002. The success of that work was the beginning of his international recognition.

He started his mid-career survey at the MCA, Sydney in 2008, then went on a tour of the Brooklyn Museum, New York in June 2009, and the Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian Institution, Washington DC in October 2009. His first public art was commissioned to be placed on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square in 2010 when he created the ‘Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle’.

Shonibare’s fibreglass work titled “Wind Sculpture VII”, was placed at the entrance of the Smithsonian’s National Museum of African Art (NMAA) in Washington, DC on the 3rd of December 2016. This is the first sculpture that would be placed permanently at the entrance of the NMAA. He currently has a collaboration with Bellerby & Co and Globemakers.

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Yinka Shonibare Public Commissions.

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  • Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle, Fourth Plinth Commission, Trafalgar Square, London, England in 2010.
  • Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle, Acquisition National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London, England (a permanent public sculpture) in 2012.
  • Globe Head Ballerina, Royal Opera House, London, England in 2012.
  • Wind Sculpture V, Sydney and Walda Besthoff Sculpture Garden, The New Orleans in 2014.
  • Wind Sculpture at Howick Place, Victoria, London, England in 2014.
  • Museum of Art, New Orleans, USA in 2014.
  • Wind Sculpture VI, British Council UK/ Nigeria 2015-16, Ndubuisi Kanu Park, Lagos, Nigeria in 2016.
  • RA Family Album, Royal Academy of Arts, London, England in 2016.
  • Wind Sculpture VII, Smithsonian Museum of African Art, Washington, USA in 2016.
  • Wind Sculpture (SG) I, Public Art Fund Commission, Doris C. Freedman Plaza, Central Park, New York, USA, permanently installed at Davidson College, USA in 2018.

Yinka Shonibare Selected Solo Exhibitions From 2009 Till Date.

  • Mother and Father Worked Hard So I Can Play, Brooklyn Museum of Art, Brooklyn, NY, USA; Traveling to the St Louis Art Museum, USA in 2009.
  • Willy Loman: The Rise and Fall, Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, England in 2009.
  • Party Time: Re-Imagine America – A Centennial Commission by Yinka Shonibare MBE, Newark Museum, New York, USA in 2009.
  • Dublin City Gallery the Hugh Lane, Ireland in 2009.
  • A Flying Machine for every Man, Woman and Child & other Astonishing Works, Santa Barbara Museum of Art, California, USA in 2009.
  • A Flying Machine for every Man, Woman and Child, Miami Art Museum, Miami, USA in 2009.
  • Human Culture: Earth, Wind, Fire and Water, Israel Museum, Jerusalem in 2010.
  • Yinka Shonibare, MBE: Sculpture, Photography and Film, Western Michigan University, Michigan, USA in 2010.
  • Looking Up, Nouveau Musée National de Monaco, Monaco in 2010.
  • Yinka Shonibare MBE, Friedrichswerder Church, Berlin, Germany in 2010.
  • Before and After Modernism: Byam Shaw, Rex Vicat Cole, Yinka Shonibare, MBE, Lethaby Gallery, Central Saint Martin’s College of Art & Design, London, England in 2010.
  • El Futuro del Pasado, Alcalá 31 Centros de Arte, Madrid, Spain, curated by Octavio Zaya; touring to Centro de Arte Moderno, Las Palmas de Gran Canaria, Spain in 2011.
  • Imagined as the Truth, San Diego Art Museum, San Diego, USA in 2012.
  • Invasion, Escape: Aliens do it right! Anna Schwartz Gallery, Sydney, Australia in 2012.
  • Addio del Passato, James Cohan Gallery, New York, USA in 2012.
  • Yinka Shonibare, MBE: Dreaming Rich, Pearl Lam Galleries, Hong Kong, Shanghai in 2013.
  • Yinka Shonibare MBE, Royal Museums Greenwich, London, England in 2013.
  • Selected Works, Gdansk City Gallery, Gdansk, Poland; traveling to Wroclaw Contemporary Museum, Wroclaw, Poland in 2013.
  • FABRIC-ATION, GL Strand, Copenhagen, Denmark in 2013.
  • FABRIC-ATION, Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, England (catalogue) in 2013.
  • FOCUS: Yinka Shonibare, MBE, Modern Art Museum of Fort Worth, Texas, USA in 2013.
  • POP! Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, England in 2013.
  • Dreaming Rich, Pearl Lam Galleries, Hong Kong, China in 2013.
  • Egg Fight, Foundation Blachère, France (catalogue) in 2014.
  • Cannonball Paradise, Herbert Gerisch Foundation, Neumünster, Germany in 2014.
  • The British Library, HOUSE and Brighton Festival co-commission, The Old Reference Library, Brighton Museum, England in 2014.
  • Yinka Shonibare MBE: Magic Ladders, The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, USA in 2014.
  • Yinka Shonibare, Brand New Gallery, Milan, Italy in 2014.
  • Making Eden, Blain Southern, Berlin, Germany in 2014.
  • Wroclaw Contemporary Museum, Wroclaw, Poland in 2014.
  • MCA Chicago Plaza Project, Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago, Illinois, USA in 2014.
  • Party Time: Re-imagine America, The Newark Museum, Newark, New Jersey, USA in 2014.
  • William Morris Family Album, The William Morris Gallery, London, England in 2015.
  • High Tea, Peninsula Hotel, Hong Kong, China in 2015.
  • Rage of the Ballet Gods, James Cohen Gallery, New York, USA in 2015.
  • Colonial Arrangements, Morris-Jumel Mansion, New York, USA in 2015.
  • Pieces de Resistance, DHC ART, Montreal, Canada in 2015.
  • Yinka Shonibare, Daegu Art Museum, South Korea in 2015.
  • RA Family Album, Royal Academy of Arts, London, England in 2016.
  • …and the wall fell away, Stephen Friedman Gallery, London, England in 2016.
  • Recreating The Pastoral, Visual Carlow, Carlow, Ireland in 2016.
  • End of Empire, 14-18 Now, Turner Contemporary, Margate, England in 2016.
  • Childhood Memories, Pearl Lam Galleries, Singapore in 2016.
  • Rotunda Projects: Yinka Shonibare MBE, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Memphis, Tennessee, USA in 2016.
  • Paradise Beyond, Gemeentemusem, Helmond, Netherlands in 2016.
  • Yinka Shonibare MBE, Yale Centre for British Art, New Haven, USA in 2016.
  • Prejudice at Home; a Parlour, a Library and a Room, James Cohan Gallery, New York, USA
  • Paradise Beyond, Gemeentmuseum Helmond, Netherlands in 2017.
  • Yinka Shonibare MBE, Fitzrovia Chapel, London, UK in 2018.
  • End of Empire, Glynn Vivian Art Gallery, Swansea, UK in 2018.
  • Yinka Shonibare MBE, Howick Place, London, UK in 2018.
  • Ruins Decorated, Goodman Gallery, Johannesburg, South Africa in 2018.
  • Yinka Shonibare MBE, Busan Museum of Art, Seoul, South Korea in 2018.
  • The American Library, Van Every/Smith Galleries at Davidson College, North Carolina, USA in 2018. Yinka Shonibare CBE: Flower Power, Fukuoka Art Museum, Fukuoka, Japan in 2019.
  • A Tale of Today: Yinka Shonibare CBE, Driehaus Museum, Chicago, USA in 2019.
  • Trade Winds: Yinka Shonibare CBE, Norval Foundation, Cape Town, South Africa in 2019.
  • Creatures of the Mappa Mundi, Hereford Cathedral, Hereford, UK in 2019.

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Yinka Shonibare Quotes.

“People responded to my work because I was doing something that hadn’t been done before.”

“Primarily, art is about humanism, fundamental human values, fundamental liberal values”

“The art I do is an expression of who I am, what my history is, and the issues that bother me in terms of discrimination and racism.”

“All artists need to have a sense of curiosity, and if you are not a curious person, then you cannot be an artist.”

“What a creative person would do is to open the public to new possibilities, what they don’t know they want yet.”

“You want people to look at the work and engage with it, so you have to find the best way to do that.”

“I enjoy making my work and I enjoy making colour. Primarily, I make the work for myself first, and if other people like the work then that’s fine.”

Yinka Shonibare Awards and Recognitions.

  • Barclays Young Artists Award, Serpentine Gallery, London, England in 1992.
  • London Arts Board Artist’s Grant in 1992.
  • Paul Hamlyn Foundation Award for Visual Artists in 1998.
  • Royal Society of Arts, Art for Architecture Award in 1998.
  • Shortlisted Citibank Private Bank Photography Prize in 1999.
  • MCA DePaul University, Chicago, USA granted him Residency in 2000.
  • Granted residency at Fabric Workshop, Philadelphia, USA in 2001.
  • Fellow of Goldsmiths College, London, England in 2003.
  • IASPIS, International Artists’ Studio Program in Stockholm, Sweden in 2004.
  • Awarded as a Member of the ‘Most Excellent Order of the British Empire’ (MBE) in 2005.
  • Honorary Doctorate Degree from the Huron University, London, England in 2007.
  • Appointed as a member of the Iniva Board of Trustee in 2009.
  • The Royal Academy of Arts Charles Wollaston Award in 2010.
  • Honorary Doctorate from the Royal College of Art London, England in 2010.
  • Fellow of University of the Arts, London, England in 2012.
  • The Royal Academy, London, England made Shonibare a Royal Academician in 2013.
  • African Arts Award by the National Museum of African Art Smithsonian Institution, New York City, USA in 2016.
  • ‘The Museum of Arts and Design (MAD) Arts award’, New York, USA in 2016.
  • Awarded the Commander of the Order of the British Empire (CBE) in 2019.
  • Art UK appointed Yinka Shonibare CBE as its Patron in 2019.

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Yinka Shonibare’s Net Worth.

Yinka Shonibare is an award-winning conceptual artist whose artwork is recognised and purchased internationally, as such, it is expected that he is worth millions. His net worth is still under Forbes review, however, celebstrendnow.com estimated his net worth to be between $100 thousand to $1 million.

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