Yinka Shonibare CBE RA - New Now London Tuesday, April 10, 2018 | Phillips

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  • Provenance

    Leonardo DiCaprio Foundation Auction, St Tropez, 2017 (gifted by the artist / James Cohan)
    Acquired at the above sale by the present owner

  • Exhibited

    New York, James Cohan, Yinka Shonibare MBE: Rage of the Ballet Gods, 30 April - 20 June 2015
    Memphis, Memphis Brooks Museum of Art, Rotunda Projects: Yinka Shonibare MBE, 7 May - 6 November 2016

  • Catalogue Essay

    Executed in 2015, Ballet God (Poseidon) is exemplary of Yinka Shonibare’s progressive and multi-layered practice, which offers a biting commentary on current affairs and geopolitics. In the present work, Shonibare directly addresses the topic of climate change and the resulting human instinct for survival. The artist depicts the iconic Greek god of Poseidon, a symbol of strength and authority, embodied as a slender ballerina wearing a tutu and stretching into an arabesque. Appearing poised and serene at first glance, the present work belongs to the artist’s series of ballerina goddesses who are, in fact, dangerous, enraged with humanity’s continual destruction of the earth, wielding deadly weapons to smite mankind. Poseidon brandishes a dagger in one hand and the mythical god’s recognisable trident in the other; livid at their displacement, the gods are no longer in control of humanity’s fate. Whereas in Homer’s Odyssey, the figure of Poseidon punishes Odysseus with violent storms, preventing him from returning home to Ithaca, now Poseidon’s manipulation of the weather is no longer solely in her control. Science and myth collide in Shonibare’s examination of progress, creating a juxtaposition of the fantastic and the tangible.

    Ballet God (Poseidon) was included in the artist’s 2015 exhibition at James Cohan Gallery, New York, titled Rage of the Ballet Gods. The show was divided into two sections, namely Rage and Escape, investigating the paradox between today’s progress of rational thought and its underlying scientific advances, forcing humanity closer towards environmental disaster. Evident in the series is Shonibare’s use of ‘batik’, a Dutch wax fabric of complex patterns which highlights humanity’s history of colonialism, trade and cultural identity. Forcing us to confront humankind’s destruction of the planet face on, Shonibare plunges the viewer into a complex world of associative connotations.


Ballet God (Poseidon)

stamped with the artist's name, title, inscription and date '"POSEIDON" London, England, 2015 YINKA SHONIBARE MBE "POSEIDON"' on the globe
fibreglass mannequin, dutch wax printed cotton, trident, dagger, globe, pointe shoes, beads, tutu and steel baseplate, in 5 parts
209 x 221 x 90 cm (82 1/4 x 87 x 35 3/8 in.)
Executed in 2015.

£80,000 - 120,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £100,000

Contact Specialist
Simon Tovey
Head of Sale
+44 20 7318 4084

New Now

London Auction 11 April 2018