Yinka Shonibare is known on an international level for his wide range of artistic mediums that explore and highlight the relationship between Africa and Europe. Using film, sculpture, photography and painting, Shonibare draws in an audience to view his creations that address colonialism and post-colonialism.
His fascination with cultural and national self-identification draws from a childhood spent both in Nigeria and in Britain. His most popular work circles around the use of batik fabric which is commonly placed under the label of ‘African’.
Shonibare says, "People have come to associate the fabric with Africa, but actually it is Indonesian-influenced fabric produced by the Dutch for sales to the African market. It was made in Hyde…and I bought it in Brixton market. I like the fact that something seen as being African is actually the product of quite complex cultural relationships.”
As intricate and detailed as his work is, Shonibare is physically unable to carry out the work on his own due to transverse myelitis (inflammation of spinal cord) that he contracted as a teen. As a result, he relies on assistants to carry his vision and together they successfully create stimulating images for the eyes and for the mind. Shonibare brings into light the commercialization and exploitation of the third world.