Born in London and growing up in Lagos, Nigeria, Yinka Shonibare is one of the most recognized and distinguished British artists working today. Mr. Shonibare has exhibited around the world, including participation in important contemporary art exhibitions such as Documenta and Venice Biennale. Among his many public art projects is the prestigious public commission for Trafalgar Square in London. He was a nominee for the prestigious Turner prize in 2004; in 2013, he was elected as Royal Academician; and in 2019, he was honored with the title of CBE or Commander of the Office of the British Empire which he has adopted as part of his name.
Referring to his dual identity as Nigerian and British, Shonibare is a self-described “post-colonial hybrid.” His art finds inspiration in art historical sources from Greco-Roman antiquity to African design. Welcoming visitors as they approach the ticketing area, Shonibare’s Aphrodite de Fréjus and Farnese Herculesare based on classical statues: Aphrodite or Venus, the goddess of love and beauty, and Hercules or Herakles, the hero of the Twelve Labors. Both antique sculptures are on display at the Musée du Louvre in Paris. Shonibare reimagines them with his signature Dutch wax batik patterns painted on the surface. He gives each sculpture a new contemporary meaning, playfully turning their heads into globes.