Yinka Shonibare’s Fabrication

If you’ve strolled past London’s Royal Opera House recently, you’ve probably seen a bubble-encased, globe-headed ballerina, caught mid-pose and slowly rotating on from the side of the building.

Revolution Kid (fox boy)  2012

Source: Courtesy the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery London

Revolution Kid (fox boy) 2012

This strange and beautiful accoutrement is the work of Yinka Shonibare, who created the piece based on Royal Ballet soloist Melissa Hamilton.

The work is typical of Shonibare’s playful style, which explores the ambiguity of heritage and identity through his sculptural pieces.

Cannonball Heaven 2011

Source: Courtesy the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery London

Cannonball Heaven 2011

This March, Yorkshire Sculpture Park will be showing the largest ever UK exhibition of Shonibare’s work, spanning three of YSP’s indoor galleries and a large open-air space.

The show, entitled FABRIC-ATION, features 30 works created between 2002 and 2013, with sculpture, film, photography, painting and collage, with many works never before seen in the UK.

Addio Del Passato (film still) 2011

Source: Courtest the artist and James Cohen Gallery New York and Stephen Friedman Gallery London

Addio Del Passato (film still) 2011

The London-born artist moved to Nigeria when he was three, and later returned to the UK to study art. The show will trace the development of his word, including the new Wind Sculptures series of six metre high, richly colourful pieces. Each of the fibreglass works is painted with a batik-inspired pattern, and aims to create the feel of flowing fabric.

This batik patterns are recurring themes throughout Shonibare’s work, described by the artist as ‘signifiers of “African-ness” insofar as when people first view the fabric they think of Africa.’

Revolution Kid (fox boy)  2012

Source: Courtesy the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery London

Revolution Kid (fox boy) 2012

Other new works include the disquieting taxidermy pieces of the Revolution Kids works from 2012. These brightly dressed sculptures have the body of a person and the head of a fox, and are the artist’s comment on the London Riots of 2011, and the Arab Spring, according to the gallery, ‘with the overriding sense of transformation through insurgence.’

Alien Man on Flying Machine 2011

Source: Courtesy the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery Sydney

Alien Man on Flying Machine 2011

The strange Alien Man on Flying Machine contraption will also be on show, demonstrating Shonibare’s interest in early flight, harnessed to explore notions of foreignness and strangeness.

Alien Man on Flying Machine 2011

Source: Courtesy the artist and Anna Schwartz Gallery Sydney

Alien Man on Flying Machine 2011

FABRIC-ATION runs from 2 March ­ 1 September at Yorkshire Sculpture Park, West Bretton, Wakefield WF4

Fake Death Picture (the Suicide Leonardo Alenza) 2011

Source: Courtesy the artist and James Cohen Gallery New York and Stephen Friedman Gallery London

Fake Death Picture (the Suicide Leonardo Alenza) 2011

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