Yinka Shonibare MBE’s exhibition Paradise Beyond at Gemeentemuseum Helmond, drew viewers through a series of installations, sculptures, collages, drawings, photography and films from the last decade of the artist’s career.
Known for his use of patterned Dutch wax batik fabrics, Shonibare’s pieces are powerful expressions of the complexities inherent in contemporary discourse on post-colonialism and identity. The fabrics were inspired by Indonesian design, produced in Helmond and sold to the colonies in West Africa. In the 1960s they became signifiers of African identity and independence. Using the textiles to represent the hybridity of identity and whilst also investigating ideas of race, class, power and migration, the coloured fabric has become a hallmark of his artwork.
The exhibition dovetailed with a presentation of iconic Vlisco textiles, as the local factory produces the iconic fabric that is so often present in Shonibare’s work.