London-born Yinka Shonibare CBE, who grew up in Lagos, Nigeria, is one of the most recognized and distinguished working British artists. Shonibare has exhibited around the world and participated in important contemporary art exhibitions such as Documenta and Venice Biennale. Among his many public art projects is the prestigious commission for Trafalgar Square in London. The artist was a nominee for the prestigious Turner prize in 2004; was elected as Royal Academician in 2013; and in 2019 was honored with the title of Commander of the Office of the British Empire or CBE, which he has adopted as part of his name.
Referring to his dual Nigerian and British identity, Shonibare is a self-described post-colonial hybrid. He finds inspiration for his art in historical sources from Greco-Roman antiquity to African design. Welcoming visitors as they approach the ticketing area, are his Aphrodite de Fréjus and Farnese Hercules, based on classical statues: Aphrodite, or Venus, is the goddess of love and beauty; Hercules, or Herakles, is the hero of the Twelve Labors. Both antique sculptures are displayed 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.
Yinka Shonibare CBE. Aphrodite de Fréjus, 2018. Mixed Media, 55 1/2 x 29 1/8 x 22 5/8 inches. Gift of Fred and Lena Meijer. ©Yinka Shonibare CBE.