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Yinka Shonibare CBE RA
Clementia, 2018
Fibreglass sculpture, hand-painted with Batik pattern, and steel base plate or plinth
Figure: 143.5 x 81 x 53 cm

Through beguiling sculptures, Yinka Shonibare CBE sparks a state of charged curiosity in considering narratives of power and reinvention in relation to the rise and fall of western empires and the struggles for African Independence. Embellished in Dutch wax Batik / ‘African’ textiles, Shonibare transforms the classical white marble bodies of historical symbols associated with the Roman and British Empires into colourful sculptures; placing the pattern directly onto the skin. In so doing, Shonibare clashes the ideological implications of the textile with classical sculpture. Can the power of collusion and hybridisation create a third ideal that transcends prejudice? This exploration of hyphenated or ‘mongrelised’ selves prompts ways for expanding dialogues on cultural ‘appropriation’, teasing out possibilities for re-imagining modern African identities that complicate essentialist constructs of race and nationality, as well as movement of the pattern-adorned body and its connotations of sexuality, masculinity, athleticism and the ideal body.