The Gemeentemuseum Helmond in the Netherlands present works by the British-Nigerian artist, Yinka Shonibare MBE, from September 2016 to February 2017. Running simultaneously, visitors to the art museum will be introduced to Helmond-based Vlisco textile factory that produces the patterned fabric so often present in Shonibare’s work. While both exhibitions are unique, they are also closely connected; for Shonibare, the beautiful Vlisco fabric and patterns are a source of inspiration.
A key material in Shonibare’s work since the 1990s are the brightly coloured “African” fabrics (Dutch wax) which were inspired by Indonesian design, produced in Helmond and sold to the colonies in West Africa. “But actually, the fabrics are not really authentically African the way people think,” says Shonibare, “They prove to have a crossbred cultural background quite of their own. And it’s the fallacy of that signification that I like. It’s the way I view culture – it is an artificial construct.”
The exhibition, Yinka Shonibare MBE: Paradise Beyond will feature major sculptures, installations, collages, drawings, photo works and films from the period 2004-2016. The exhibition highlights issues of race, class, power and migration. Shonibare uses his elegant, seductive and humorous work in making sensitive socio-cultural topics accessible. The exhibition can be read as a cycle with periods of conflict, revolution and war, the quest for paradise, personal enrichment, the expulsion, the flight from and then again the quest for paradise.
In the exhibition ‘Un a Un’, Vlisco shows classic patterns, re-interpretations, and new designs. The exhibition zooms in on four specific aspects: the company’s history, production processes, design processes and use of the fabrics in fashion and art. In this presentation, developed especially for Vlisco’s 170th anniversary, the emphasis will be on the captivating visual qualities of the fabrics and on their powerful symbolism.
Both exhibitions are included in the extensive collaboration of the province of Brabant in concurrence with the proclamation of 2017 as ‘Mondriaan to Dutch Design year’, an initiative of NBTC Holland Marketing, The Hague, Leiden, Utrecht, Gelderland, Drachten and Brabant.
Date: 20th September 2016 – 12th February 2017

Venue: Gemeentemuseum Helmond, Kasteelplein 1, 5701 Helmond, Netherlands.

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Top featured image: Yinka Shonibare, Adam and Eve (2013)
Fibreglass mannequins, Dutch wax-printed cotton textile, fiberglass, wire, and steel base plates.