The Princess Estelle Cultural Foundation has the pleasure of presenting the artist of 2022 at Royal Djurgården: Yinka Shonibare CBE – one of the world’s currently most widely-acknowledged and successful artists. Since the early 1990s, Shonibare has become famous for works in various media and materials exploring national and cultural identity. 

Over the years, he has won many prestigious accolades. Two years ago, he was also awarded a CBE, Commander of the Most Excellent Order of the British Empire. Back in 2004, Shonibare was nominated for the Turner Prize, and he subsequently became a member of the Royal Academy in London and is an honorary doctor of several universities. This year he received the Art Icon Award. He has participated in the Venice Biennale, documenta in Kassel, and exhibitions at leading museums all over the world.

Regardless of media – be it painting, photography, performance, film or sculpture – Shonibare has a unique way of commenting on the complex relationship between Europe and Africa. He often bases the works on global events or famous works in Western art history, creating new versions from an African perspective. One characteristic trait of Shonibare’s practice is the playful and singularly ironic humour with which he portrays serious, controversial subjects.

Shonibare, who was born in London in 1962 and grew up in his family’s native Nigeria, before returning to Britain at the age of 17 to study at art school, describes himself as a “postcolonial hybrid”. He regards his most crucial work material, pseudo-African cotton batik fabrics, as a metaphor for migration. “The material has the ability to be Dutch, Indonesian and African at the same time. For me, the fabrics are a symbol of cross-cultural connections,” says Yinka Shonibare. 

The meaning of multilateral collaborations and knowledge-sharing is something that Shonibare stresses in different contexts. The Yinka Shonibare Foundation was founded in 2019, as a charity dedicated to facilitating international artistic development and research and promoting mutual understanding for cultural differences. Its Guest Artists Space has an international exchange programme offering residencies and guest artist spaces in London, Lagos and on a 54-hectare ecological farm in Ijebu, Nigeria. 

“I want this project to lead to growing knowledge, respect and interdisciplinary collaborations. My hope is that it will contribute in the long term to a more sustainable society.”  

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Yinka Shonibare CBE RA, 2014 Photographer: Marcus Leith RA