Yinka Shonibare CBE RA - 20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale London Thursday, October 14, 2021 | Phillips

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  • Girl on Globe 3 (2011) addresses with a vivid subversity and tragi-comic presence, the themes of cultural identity, post-colonialism and the impact of globalisation that are central in the artist’s oeuvre. A young girl, symbolic of the future generation, perilously balances on the edge of the world, arms outspread, dressed in the artist’s instantly recognisable Dutch wax fabric. The globe itself is patterned with vivid swirling tones of yellow, orange and red, representing the meteorological charts that illustrate the world’s changing temperatures - the environmental legacy of global industrialisation. 

    Born in London in 1962, Shonibare’s family moved to Nigeria when he was three. The artist returned to the UK to study Fine Art at Byam Shaw School of Art, London and Goldsmiths College, London in the late 1980s.  Acutely aware that the most politically outspoken artists of the period were being ignored by mainstream critics, Shonibare realised the importance of making his works beautiful, describing his art as ‘deceptively comfortable’.i Using beauty as a hook, viewers are reeled in to be confronted with fundamental difficult realities. A lavish, colourful, amusing and playful aesthetic is balanced with a dark undercurrent addressing themes of race, class and colonialism. ‘The black art movement seemed to be perennially marginalised,’ said Shonibare. ‘I wanted to avoid work that would make people feel defensive rather than wanting to engage with it’.ii There is subsequently a wonderful paradox and contradiction in Shonibare’s artworks, described by the artist as the ‘Trojan Horse’: ‘With the Trojan horse, you can go in unnoticed. And then you can wreak havoc’ .iii

    'My work comes from a place of discontent and they are highly political pieces. Dissatisfied. How can I make a political work that is provocative and beautiful but the work also deconstructs itself in the sense that there is a degree of ambiguity and ambivalence that I actually want because I straddle this thing of absolutely wanting to be a part of the establishment but also wanting to protest.'
    —Yinka Shonibare 

    The richly patterned Dutch wax textiles used throughout the artist’s work have a complex origin. A cultural hybrid, the designs were inspired by Indonesian batiks, manufactured in the Netherlands and Manchester and then marketed in the nineteenth century to West African buyers. They came to Shonibare’s attention on the market stalls in Brixton in London after his tutor had asked why the artist, with his African heritage, did not produce authentic African work. The artist has mused at the incongruous remark: ‘I went to Brixton market in search of my so-called authenticity’.iv Identity politics has been fundamental to the artist’s work and the material appears as a constant in Shonibare’s wide ranging output: applied to canvases and three-dimensional landscapes, used to clothe his performers in his video works and, as in the present example, it is fashioned into elaborate period costumes upon headless mannequins. For Shonibare, the fabric represents how something that symbolises one culture can have a hidden, multicultural history. It denotes his belief that cultural identity is enriched when united, as the artist stated: ‘Metaphorically speaking, I don’t believe in putting up borders’.v 

    Shonibare’s sculptural pieces, such as the Global Children series, are the most important works from the artist’s diverse output. In 2004, his status was publicly recognised with his Turner prize nomination. In 2005, Shonibare was made a Member of the Order of the British Empire by Queen Elizabeth, a title which the artist now formally attaches to his name, encouraging an ironic reflection on Britain’s colonial past. The artist has been widely celebrated with 41 solo shows to his name, most recently exhibiting at Stephen Friedman Gallery this summer under the title ‘African Spirits of Modernism’.


    A discussion on the practice of Yinka Shonibare MBE by Bloomberg Quicktake: ‘Portraying the Sordid Shadow of Colonial History: Yinka Shonibare, Brilliant Ideas’.

    i Yinka Shonibare in interview, ‘Yinka Shonibare’, Royal Academy of Arts, 21 December 2018, podcast
    ii Yinka Shonibare, quoted in, Harriet Fitch Little, ‘Yinka Shonibare: ‘I don’t believe in putting up borders’, Financial Times, 8 December 2017, online
    iii Yinka Shonibare, quoted in, ‘BOMB THE ROOT
    : The Yinka Shonibare Interview’, Bomb Magazine, 12 October 2009, online
    iv Yinka Shonibare, quoted in, ‘‘I don’t care what people think. As artists we have to express ourselves’: Yinka Ilori in conversation with Yinka Shonibare’, It’s Nice That, 29 June 2021, online
    v Yinka Shonibare, quoted in, Harriet Fitch Little, ‘Yinka Shonibare: ‘I don’t believe in putting up borders’, Financial Times, 8 December 2017, online

    • Provenance

      James Cohan Gallery, New York
      Acquired from the above by the present owner

    • Exhibited

      Stockholm, Wetterling Gallery, NOW!, 21 March - 27 April 2013


Girl on Globe 3

fiberglass mannequin, Dutch wax printed cotton and globe
mannequin 117 x 62 x 71.5 cm (46 1/8 x 24 3/8 x 28 1/8 in.)
globe 80 x 80 x 80 cm (31 1/2 x 31 1/2 x 31 1/2 in.)
overall 151 x 121 x 100 cm (59 1/2 x 47 5/8 x 39 3/8 in.)

Executed in 2011.

Full Cataloguing

£100,000 - 150,000 ‡ ♠

Sold for £107,100

Contact Specialist

Tamila Kerimova
Specialist, Director, Head of Day Sale

20th Century & Contemporary Art

+44 20 7318 4065
[email protected]

20th Century & Contemporary Art Day Sale

London Auction 14 October 2021