Monday, January 16, 2017

ART - The Sculptor

"Depicting colonialism and globalization through art ‘full of contradiction'" PBS NewsHour 1/12/2017


SUMMARY:  A “Wind Sculpture” by visual artist Yinka Shonibare MBE was recently installed in front of the National Museum of African Art in Washington, D.C.  It's the seventh in Shonibare's series of vibrantly colored and patterned public artworks that are made of fiberglass, but look like cloth.  Jeffrey Brown talks to Shonibare about his interest in depicting globalization and what he asks of his viewers.

JEFFREY BROWN (NewsHour):  On a recent morning in Washington, D.C., this wind sculpture was lifted in and installed outside the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art.  It's the latest in a series of public art works on display around the world by the artist Yinka Shonibare.

YINKA SHONIBARE MBE, Artist:  It's a freestanding sculpture, but it's a very dynamic sculpture, and it's very colorful.  And, also, it's deceptive, because, from a distance, it feels like it's actually soft material.

JEFFREY BROWN:  Playful, deceptive, full of contradiction, the stuff of Shonibare's works, most of all the sculptures for which he's best known, colonial-style figures, some headless, some with globes for heads, in brightly colored African-style costumes.

YINKA SHONIBARE MBE:  Actually, my work is really breaking down stereotypes, saying, you know what?  What you see is not necessarily what you get.  So, you might actually want to take time to find out more about something before you then start to make assumptions about it.

JEFFREY BROWN:  Shonibare himself is a mix of identities.  Born in London in 1962, he moved to his family's homeland in Nigeria at three years old, and then returned to London to study fine art.

At 19, he contracted a viral infection in his spine that left him partially paralyzed.  He also began to see his way forward as an artist, through an unintentionally provocative question that came from a teacher.

YINKA SHONIBARE MBE:  One of my teachers said, why aren't you making authentic African art?  I felt that, actually, what's authentic African art, or what's authentic identity in a global, modern world?

And so those questions have been with me since.  And I have explored those questions in many ways.

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