The British Museum acquired five works of art by Yinka Shonibare CBE. These artworks have an anti-Trump message, and they are collectively known as “Cowboy Angels”.
Yinka Shonibare CBE said that “Cowboy Angels” are “a reflection on the Zeitgeist at a time of xenophobia, racism and the election of Donald Trump in the United States.”
These are the first artworks made by the British-Nigerian artist to come into the British Museum collection. The “Yinka Shonibare: Cowboy Angels” exhibition will be on view at the British Museum until September 01, 2019.
The Shonibare series has five woodcut prints, incorporating a collage of wax batik fabric. The prints show cowboys with angel wings. The cowboys sit on a horse, with a gun-holding pose, and their faces are covered or substituted by a canonical mask. The works by Shonibare have the word ‘Angel’ above these cowboys. The British Museum purchased these artworks with the Rootstein Hopkins Foundation’s help.
“The cowboy Angel is an embodiment of good and evil, it is opposed to binary positions of good and evil,” Shonibare said.
Underlining the global aspects of his work, he also said, “I have used African textiles in my work to trace the construction of my modern African identity as a residue of colonial relations between Africa and Europe. The fabrics are Indonesian-inspired fabric produced by the Dutch. I also use the Financial Times in my prints to signify power relations.”
These works went on display at the museum in the same week Americans criticized President Donald Trump for his racist comments on four liberal congresswomen.
“The timing of this display is pure coincidence,” British Museum’s Keeper of Prints and Drawings, Hugo Chapman said, “but it does seem particularly relevant to be putting Yinka’s newly acquired works on show at the same time that race and nationhood are in the news in America.”
Chapman added, “It’s another example of how important art is in helping us make sense of the world we live in.”
Yinka Shonibare CBE was born in London in 1962, but he moved to Nigeria at a young age. He came back to the capital city of the UK to study art. He creates work that addresses cultural identities and post-colonialism. Shonibare was conferred with a CBE in the 2019 New Year’s Honors list.
You can honor Shonibare’s unique creations by taking a British Museum guided tour exhibition for free.