Yinka Shonibare CBE (RA)
The African Library, 2018
The African Library, 2018

“Trade Winds: Yinka Shonibare CBE” at Norval Foundation, Cape Town

Monday 13 February – Monday 26 August 2019

Trade Winds: Yinka Shonibare CBE brings together a series of artworks, including sculptures, photographs and a major installation, created between 2008 and 2018, which are connected through their use of Dutch Wax fabric.

The exhibition takes as its starting point an appreciation for the fabric’s materiality and the conceptual as well as historical meanings associated with it and also provides a context for Wind Sculpture (SG) III (2018), which has recently been acquired by Norval Foundation, and permanently installed in the Norval Foundation Sculpture Garden.

At the centre of this exhibition is The African Library (2018), the most recent iteration of the library series venerating first or second-generation immigrants who have shaped a country’s social, political or cultural life. Comprised of approximately 4,900 books covered in Dutch Wax fabric, The African Library broadens the initial concept of the artwork by celebrating the contributions that immigrant and non-immigrant Africans have made to the continent’s independence movements, science, arts and technological innovation, by emblazoning their names in gold along the spines of books.

Alongside The African Library, is the five-part photographic series The Sleep of Reason Produces Monsters (2008). Drawing upon the eighteenth-century Spanish artist Francisco Goya’s satiric etching of the same name, the works are similarly critical of humanity’s inability to be truly rational. Each of the five photographs relate to a specific continent, acting as personifications of these land masses, yet the ethnicity of the figure in each image confuses traditional expectations of who inhabits a given continent. Two figurative sculptures included in this exhibition, Boy Balancing Knowledge II (2016) and Butterfly Kid (Girl) IV (2017), while playful, nonetheless suggest significant subjects for the next generation: escape from an environmentally compromised planet, and the weight and precariousness of our systems of knowledge.



©2020. All images are property of Yinka Shonibare CBE (RA).