Farnese Hercules (2017)
Yinka Shonibare MBE
Unique fibreglass sculpture, hand-painted with Dutch wax batik pattern and bespoke hand-coloured globe
141 x 74 x 57.5cm
Courtesy of artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery
Multidisciplinary artist Yinka Shonibare explores issues such as race, class and politics through his artworks. A hallmark of his work is brightly coloured batik fabric. Despite the material originally being imported from Asia to Africa by Dutch merchants, and then latterly manufactured in Europe and sold in Africa, it’s commonly perceived as ‘African’. Shonibare is interested how cultural aspects fuse together and, indeed, describes himself - British born and of Nigerian descent - as a ‘post-colonial hybrid’.
In 'Farnese Hercules', Shonibare has been inspired by the classical white marble sculpture of Hercules, leaning on a knotted club. In Shonibare’s version, the sculpture has been brightly painted in a Dutch wax batik pattern and Hercules’ head has been replaced with a hand-coloured globe. Shonibare argues that his red, blue and gold Hercules more accurately reflects the appearance of the Greco-Roman sculpture since there’s evidence to suggest that many classical works were painted in vivid colours.
Shonibare is a Turner prize nominee, a Royal Academician and was awarded an MBE in 2004. His 'Ship in a Bottle' was displayed on Trafalgar Square’s Fourth Plinth, 'Globe Head Ballerina' is on the exterior wall of the Royal Opera House and his monumental 'Wind Sculpture' is on display in Howick Place.
For more information see stephenfriedman.com
Hedge issue 52, pp78-83, November 2018