Yinka Shonibare,the artist that brought you the Fourth Plinth ‘Ship in a Bottle’ will open a solo exhibition at Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) on 2 March 2013. This will be the first major UK survey of new and critically acclaimed work by the British Nigerian artist. Taking place in three of YSP’s indoor galleries and the open air, FABRIC–ATION will feature over 30 vibrant works from the period 2002 – 2013 including sculpture, film, photography, painting and collage, with many works never before seen in the UK.
Born in London in 1962, Shonibare moved to Nigeria when he was three, later returning to the UK to study art. His work shrewdly explores and confounds stereotypes of race and class, engaging with ideas around identity and authenticity as well as dislocation, multiculturalism, global food production and revolution, often addressed through playful conceits. This approach is part of his determination to avoid being categorised: Shonibare accepted an MBE in 2004, adopting the title into his working name, saying, “it was the last thing you would have expected of me”.
FABRIC–ATION will be a unique opportunity for audiences to trace Shonibare’s creative development over the past decade at a time when he is increasingly active in creating work for public space. Two major commissions, the first works in a new series for the UK, will premiere in the Park’s Arcadian landscape. Standing over six metres tall, Wind Sculptures (2013) will be richly coloured, painted with Shonibare’s signature batik-inspired surface pattern. Although constructed in fibreglass, they appear fluid like fabric caught by the breeze. These will follow the recent success of Shonibare’s commissions for the Royal Opera House, London (2012) and the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square (2010).
Highlights also include two Flying Machine sculptures (2012) piloted by fabric-skinned aliens, one of which will be suspended from the ceiling as though coming in to land. Alien Man on Flying Machine (2011) and Alien Woman on Flying Machine (2012) reference the artist’s interest in early flight, space exploration and science fiction while connoting ideas of foreign citizenry and strangeness. Another thematic concern, which particularly resonates with YSP’s 18th century-designed landscape, is Shonibare’s ongoing preoccupation with the historic pursuits of the aristocracy.
Yorkshire Sculpture Park (YSP) is the leading, international centre for modern and contemporary sculpture. It is an independent charitable trust and registered museum (number 1067908) situated in the 500 acre, 18th century Bretton Hall estate in West Yorkshire. Founded in 1977 by Director Peter Murray, YSP was the first sculpture park in the UK, and is the largest of its kind in Europe, providing the only place in the world to see Barbara Hepworth’s The Family of Man in its entirety and one of the largest public collections of Henry Moore bronzes in the open ai von Rydingsvard. YSP is committed to supporting artists at all stages of their careers.