Over the past decade, Yinka Shonibare MBE has become well-known for his exploration of colonialism and post-colonialism within the contemporary context of globalization. Using the richly patterned Dutch wax fabric influenced by Indonesian batiks in costumed dioramas to explore race and colonialism, the British-born Nigerian artist also employs painting, sculpture, photography, film and performance in work that challenges our notions of cultural identity.
Following the installation of the artist's widely acclaimed work Nelson's Ship in a Bottle on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, London, Shonibare continues his explorations of Lord Nelson, the figurehead of the British Empire at its apotheosis. In Addio del Passato, Shonibare explores the concept of destiny as it relates to themes of desire, yearning, love, power and sexual repression.
This multi-part exhibition features a series of new photo works entitled Fake Death Pictures in which Shonibare imagines a dramatized vision of the tragic event of Nelson's death as played out over a series of five photographic allegories based on classic scenes in paintings.
Also on display are two large installations of costumes constructed in period details along with sculptures of fetish objects and sex aids from bygone eras, and the film Addio del Passato ("so closes my sad story") in which the character of Frances Nisbet, Lord Nelson's estranged wife, sings the eponymous aria from the last act of Verdi's opera.
Yinka Shonibare MBE lives and works in London, UK. He received the decoration of Member of the "Most Excellent Order of the British Empire" in 2005, a title which he has officially added to his professional name.
YINKA SHONIBARE MBE: Addio del Passato is currently on view at James Cohan Gallery, New York
February 16 - March 24, 2012