RA Magazine Spring 2013
Issue Number: 118
Yinka Shonibare at the Yorkshire Sculpture Park
Yinka Shonibare’s bold ideas bring a riot of colour to Yorkshire Sculpture Park. By Ben Luke.
Yinka Shonibare MBE, 'Revolution Kid' (Fox Boy), 2012. Courtesy the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery. Throughout his career Yinka Shonibare, shortlisted for the Turner Prize and creator of Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle, which topped the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square, has used batik fabric in his work. Through this material he brings past and present together in vivid sculptural tableaux dealing with issues of race and class.
Shonibare’s new show at Yorkshire Sculpture Park features Wind Sculptures (2013), six-metrehigh fibreglass forms, that look like fluttering fabric, painted in batik designs. Revolution Kids (2012) takes a more political turn with batik-clad figures with foxes’ heads, brandishing smartphones and golden pistols. ‘It’s based on the Arab Spring and the riots that happened in London,’ says Shonibare, and how ‘the police in London were surprised by the power of social media.’ The golden gun is a replica of the one found with Colonel Gaddafi when he was captured in Libya. And the significance of the fox head? ‘It’s usually the aristocracy who hunt down the fox, but this fox has attitude,’ Shonibare laughs.
Of course, the Arab Spring represents hope but the London riots featured mindless violence and looting, and Shonibare is keen to reinforce the ambiguity of this work. ‘My art is never moral,’ he says, ‘it’s not trying to be on one side of the fence. I may tease the Establishment but I want a bit of power too.’
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