Yinka Shonibare's Artistry on Display

Written by: Rebecca Bury

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Time to read 3 min

London's art scene is buzzing with excitement as the Stephen Friedman Gallery presents "Free The Wind, The Spirit, and The Sun" an immersive and thought-provoking exhibition by the renowned British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare CBE. From 6th October to 11th November 2023, art enthusiasts and cultural connoisseurs have the privilege of experiencing the artistic brilliance of Shonibare's latest body of work. In this article, we'll take you on a journey through the exhibition, exploring its themes and techniques, as well as discussing the artists' work from a collecting perspective.

The Artist

Yinka Shonibare is celebrated for his unique ability to blend cultures and eras, creating art that challenges conventional notions of identity, heritage, and colonialism. Born in London and raised in Lagos, Nigeria, his work often challenges conventional notions of race, class, and ethnicity through a diverse range of media, including sculpture, painting, photography, and textile-based art.

 

Shonibare's art frequently explores the intersection of different cultural and historical references. He draws inspiration from a wide range of sources, including Victorian literature, classical art, African art, and post-colonial theory. His work is characterised by its playfulness, wit, and visual richness, inviting viewers to engage with complex themes in a visually compelling and accessible way. Through his art, Yinka Shonibare encourages us to question preconceived notions of identity and heritage, inviting us to embrace the complexities of our globalised world. His work has made a significant impact on the contemporary art scene, sparking important dialogues about race, colonialism, and cultural exchange.

The Exhibition: A Glimpse Inside

“Free The Wind, The Spirit, and The Sun" is a testament to Shonibare's artistic versatility and his unwavering commitment to addressing complex socio-political issues. The exhibition comprises a diverse range of media, including sculpture, painting, photography, and textile works. Shonibare's signature use of Dutch wax fabric, often associated with African identity, takes centre stage in many of his pieces.

One of the central themes, freedom, is depicted through his iconic use of mannequins clad in Dutch wax fabric. These figures are often posed in dynamic, powerful stances, challenging traditional notions of passivity and oppression.

 

Shonibare's work draws from diverse spiritual traditions, bringing elements of mysticism and ritual into his pieces. The use of masks, totems, and symbolic objects creates a sense of reverence and intrigue.

 

The natural world plays a significant role in the exhibition, with references to the sun, wind, and the elements. These elements serve as metaphors for the resilience and adaptability of the human spirit.

 

The exhibition pays homage to a spirit of rebellion, drawing inspiration from the Dada movement. This artistic movement challenged the established values and conventions of Western art, spanning from the Renaissance era to Naturalism and Impressionism. Dada artists frequently staged performances characterized by a bewildering and trance-like quality, drawing on influences from African and Oceanic cultures to convey concepts of animism, creativity, and liberation.

 

Yinka Shonibare Art Exhibition in London
Photo by Stephen White & Co., courtesy of Stephen Friedman Gallery.

Collecting Yinka Shonibare Works

Shonibare's prints and multiples offer a unique entry point into his artistic universe, combining cultural commentary with exquisite craftsmanship. They often feature the same dynamic blend of cultural elements found in his other works, making them an accessible way to engage with his art. 

 

As his reputation has grown, so has the demand for his works, which collectors are drawn to not only for its aesthetic appeal but also for its social and political relevance. His works are regularly featured in major art auctions and exhibitions around the world and the prices for his prints and multiples have appreciated over time, making them a compelling investment for collectors. However, it's essential to approach the market with a discerning eye. As with any investment, factors like edition size, condition, and provenance play a crucial role in determining the value of a piece. Using reputable galleries and auction houses can help you navigate the market and make informed decisions.

 

Collecting Yinka Shonibare prints and multiples is not just an investment in art; it's an exploration of cultural heritage, identity, and global connections. His art is a mirror reflecting the intricacies of our multicultural society, and his prints and multiples offer a captivating entry into this dialogue. Whether you're a seasoned collector or someone just beginning to explore the world of contemporary art, Yinka Shonibare's work is a compelling addition to any collection.

Yinka Shonibare Contemporary Art Exhibition Stephen Friedman Gallery
Photo by Stephen White & Co., courtesy of Stephen Friedman Gallery
Yinka Shonibare Contemporary Art Exhibition Stephen Friedman Gallery
Photo by Stephen White & Co., courtesy of Cristea Roberts Gallery, London

"Free The Wind, The Spirit, and The Sun" at Stephen Friedman Gallery is a testament to Yinka Shonibare's artistic genius and his dedication to shedding light on important societal issues. It's an exhibition that challenges viewers to question, reflect, and celebrate the freedom, spirit, and energy that unite us all. Don't miss the opportunity to immerse yourself in this captivating world of artistry and meaning. Visit the exhibition before it closes in November, and be prepared to be moved, inspired, and enlightened by Yinka Shonibare's extraordinary vision.