On the occasion of Yinka Shonibare MBE's opening at Guggenheim Bilbao, FAM meets the artist. Playful and provocative, Yinka Shonibare MBE has been bringing Lagos and London together with his loud combinations of African aesthetics and British austerity. Invoking just as many sardonic smiles as he does questions about colonial aftermath, Shonibare’s works are implicitly political yet strongly resist categorization. His ambiguous identity is the thematic backbone of his art—he is both African and European, critic and champion of the British Empire—he is Yinka Shonibare, honored MBE. Presenting familiar structures in unfamiliar ways with a keen sense of irony and humor, ever keeping the art world establishment on its toes.
1. People always want to categorize things: I'm much more interested in this idea of a hybrid.
2. In a lot of my work it's important that there is this ambiguity, that it doesn't answer these questions and that there are no definite statements being made. So it's more a type of poetry; it's a poetic statement.
3. Having this MBE, a lot of people wonder if this is an acceptance of it or an ironic gesture, when I think it can be both, actually.
4. To be an artist, you have to be a good liar… You have to create visions that don't actually exist yet in the world—or that may actually someday exist as a result of life following art.
5. The complexity in my work arises from that fact that while I critique the establishment I also want to become part of it as well… I’m the outsider who wants to be on the inside.
Shonibare MBE's work will be featured in Making Africa–A Continent of Contemporary Design, opening at Guggenheim Bilbao, Spain, on 30 October 2015.
Shonibare's Kaleidoscope, 2014 is available to buy now on fineartmultiple—click here to find out more.