Yinka Shonibare’s new work, ‘Wind Sculpture’, (SG) I commissioned by Public Art Fund is now available for viewing at the entrance to Central Park at the Doris C. Freedman Plaza in New York on Tuesday 7th March 2018 to October 2018.
This new sculpture by Shonibare is created from fibreglass and covered in an intricate pattern. The 23-foot-tall sculpture will rise 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 – colours that the artist associates with his childhood on the beaches of Lagos – is inspired by Dutch wax printed textiles, 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 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 colonisation 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 conjunction with the exhibition, Shonibare MBE will give a Public Art Fund Talk in collaboration with the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School on March 5 where he will discuss his new work. The exhibition is curated by Public Art Fund Director & Chief Curator Nicholas Baum.