Yinka Shonibare CBE: Aristocrat in Blue
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Aristocrat in Blue, 2020
Edition of 40 (plus artist and school proofs)
Authenticated by the Yinka Shonibare Studio with a stamp and numbered
Each edition differs slightly due to the collage element
Materials: Lithograph with collage
Dimensions: 76 x 49.5 cm
Print is unframed
‘This image of the female ‘Aristocrat’ is based on a series which playfully tries to deconstruct icons of ‘Western Power’ by de-westernising them through masking their faces with African masks. I like to play with the idea of parodying excessive lifestyles, such as those who lived privileged lives in the 18th century – in particular the opulence of the Ancient Regime in France. These lifestyles were enabled by colonisation and the slave trade, and by making visual connections between the origins of their wealth, I like to explore the power relations between both worlds. I have drawn Dogon-style animal masks from Mali, West Africa, to cover the faces of the aristocrats and incorporated actual ‘Dutch wax’ batik pattern to create a 21st-century cultural hybrid.’ Yinka Shonibare CBE, 2020
Launched in 2018 by The Hepworth Wakefield, School Prints is an ambitious five-year project to engage every primary school child in Wakefield District with contemporary art. Each year, the participating schools are gifted a set of limited-edition prints by leading contemporary artists for display in school and are supported with an in-depth engagement programme led by local artists to encourage creativity across the curriculum.
Nicola Freeman, Director of Engagement & Learning at The Hepworth Wakefield, said: “The prominence and urgency of the Black Lives Matter movement in 2020 has brought into sharp focus the lack of diversity across the arts and museum sector. As part of a number of initiatives to address this in all areas of our work at The Hepworth Wakefield, we are reshaping our Continuing Professional Development programmes for teachers and all future work with schools to support the teaching of black histories across the curriculum, starting by making this campaign the focus of School Prints 2021. We are delighted that this project is supported by such fantastic artists who have so generously given their time and creativity to help us in this endeavour.”
School Prints is inspired by a ground-breaking scheme set up in the 1940s where artists, including Henri Matisse, Henry Moore and Pablo Picasso, were commissioned to create prints specifically for schools to allow children to have direct access to high-quality art. Artists who have taken part in The Hepworth Wakefield’s revival of the scheme include Fiona Banner, Sir Peter Blake, Sir Michael Craig-Martin, Martin Creed, Jeremy Deller, Anthea Hamilton, Helen Marten, Haroon Mirza, Laure Prouvost, Linder Sterling, Francis Upritchard, Richard Wentworth and Rose Wylie.
School Prints is supported by Eridge Trust and The Curwen Studios.
Yinka Shonibare CBE (b. 1962, London; lives and works in London)
Shonibare’s work explores issues of race and class through the media of painting, sculpture, photography and film. The artist uses wry citations of Western art history and literature to question the validity of contemporary cultural and national identities. His trademark material is the brightly coloured ‘African’ batik fabric, which was inspired by Indonesian design, mass-produced by the Dutch and eventually sold to the colonies in West Africa. In the 1960s the material became a new sign of African identity and independence. Nominated for the Turner Prize in 2004, Shonibare’s mid-career survey commenced at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney, in 2008, touring to New York and Washington D.C. In 2010, his first public art commission, Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle was displayed on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, London. His installation The British Library was acquired by Tate in 2019 and is currently on display at Tate Modern, London.
Recent solo presentations include Justice for All, The Arts House, Singapore; Radical Hybridity, M Woods, Beijing (2020) and Wind Sculpture V, Rose Kennedy Greenway, Boston (all 2020).
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