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Yinka Shonibare MBE's new commission opens at the entrance to Central Park
Yinka Shonibare, Wind Sculpture (SG) I, 2018. Hand-painted fiberglass resin cast Courtesy Collection of Davidson College, NC, and James Cohan Gallery, NY. Photo: Jason Wyche, Courtesy of Public Art Fund, NY.


NEW YORK, NY.- Public Art Fund is presenting Wind Sculpture (SG) I, a new sculpture by British-Nigerian artist Yinka Shonibare MBE commissioned for Doris C. Freedman Plaza at the southeast entrance to Central Park. Created from fiberglass and covered with an intricate pattern, the 23-foot-tall sculpture rises above the plaza, reminiscent of the untethered sail of a ship billowing in the breeze. Its unique, hand-painted pattern in turquoise, red, and orange — colors that the artist associates with his childhood on the beaches of Lagos — is inspired by Dutch wax batik print, which Shonibare has called the “perfect metaphor for multilayered identities”. This is the first work in a second generation of his celebrated Wind Sculpture series and continues Shonibare’s ongoing examination of the construction of cultural identity through the lens of colonialism. The work creates an opportunity to reflect on social issues associated with our current moment, including the movement of people and ideas across borders and the role of monuments in heterogeneous societies. Yinka Shonibare MBE: Wind Sculpture (SG) I is on view March 7 – October 14, 2018 in Doris C. Freedman Plaza, Central Park.

“Monumental in scale and imposingly sited on axis with the entrance to Central Park, Yinka Shonibare’s Wind Sculpture (SG) I assumes the aspect of a classical civic monument. However, its lithe and undulating form and its vibrant, colorful surface suggest a very different approach,” says Public Art Fund Director & Chief Curator Nicholas Baume. “This is one of his most abstract works, yet it still tells a story. Its patterned, fluttering sail suggests the geographical, cultural, and personal layers of a migration borne aloft on the cross currents of colonial history.”

Shonibare has described himself as a post-colonial hybrid, and his work in painting, sculpture, photography, film, and performance utilizes unexpected combinations of pattern and form to examine race, class, migration, and identity in a globalized world. The form of Wind Sculpture (SG) I suggests the movement of wind and natural elements rendered three-dimensionally through fabric, but also the sail of a ship, which for centuries was the only means of traversing oceans to exchange culture and ideas. The patterns on the surface are borrowed from vibrant batik textiles, which Shonibare has utilized in many forms and mediums and are often associated with European colonization of West Africa. However, these fabrics have a complicated history and came to the African continent by way of Indonesia through Dutch colonization in the 1800s. Today, these fabrics are still manufactured in the Netherlands, and sold and worn throughout West Africa. With Wind Sculpture (SG) I, Shonibare uses fabric as an entry point to rethink history and meaning and the relationship between Europe and Africa; it presents a story of shifting design and culture that also speaks to the confluence of many identities in public spaces.

In 2013, Shonibare first started working with fiberglass in a large-scale format beginning with the first generation of Wind Sculpture I-VII. Wind Sculpture VII was installed permanently outside the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in 2016. This transition to a second generation of sculptures includes a design of increased size and complexity, featuring multiple twists and deeper folds in the structure.

The exhibition is curated by Public Art Fund Director & Chief Curator Nicholas Baume.

Yinka Shonibare MBE (b. 1962 London, UK) moved to Lagos, Nigeria at the age of three; he currently lives and works in the East End of London. He received his MFA from Goldsmiths College, graduating as part of the ‘Young British Artists’ generation. Through a variety of mediums, Shonibare’s work examines the implications of colonialism and post-colonialism in an interconnected world. In 2013, a major survey show was mounted at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, Wakefield, UK, and travelled in part to Royal Museums Greenwich/The Queen’s House, London, UK; GL Strand, Copenhagen, Denmark; Gdańska Galeria Miejska, Gdansk, Poland; and Wroclaw Contemporary Museum, Wroclaw, Poland. In 2014, Shonibare was the subject of the first contemporary art exhibition at The Barnes Foundation, Philadelphia. Shonibare was elected to membership in the Royal Academy in 2016. His work is included in many prestigious collections, including The Art Institute of Chicago; The National Gallery of Art, Washington, D.C; Moderna Museet, Stockholm; Museum of Modern Art, New York; National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa; National Gallery of Modern Art in Rome, the Smithsonian Institution National Museum of African Art and Hirshhorn Museum & Sculpture Garden, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; Museum of Fine Arts, Boston; Tate Collection, London; VandenBroek Foundation, The Netherlands; Victoria and Albert Museum, London, among others. Shonibare was a Turner Prize nominee in 2004, and in 2005 he was awarded the decoration of Member of the “Most Excellent Order of the British Empire,” a title that he officially added onto his professional name. In 2010, the artist’s sculpture Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle was selected for the prestigious Fourth Plinth commission series in London’s Trafalgar Square and was on view until January, 2012. Following, the Royal Opera House, London, commissioned Globe Head Ballerina (2012) to be displayed outside the Royal Opera House, overlooking Russell Street in Covent Garden.





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March 12, 2018

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