How Modern Magic Transformed sketch 

Words by
Lee Cassanell

11th April 2022

The Gallery Restaurant has been revamped and reimagined.


British-Nigerian artist, Yinka Shonibare, and project architect, India Mahdavi, have transformed the iconic London venue sketch with a new installation of artworks and interiors. 


Titled ‘Modern Magic’, Shonibare has created 13 new works that celebrate African culture and its legacy. The installation features four hand-painted masks carved from wood and 9 framed quilts that replicate African masks found in the collection of Pablo Picasso.


“After Matisse showed Picasso African art for the first time, it changed the history of modern art.” said Shonibare: 


“Picasso was interested in appropriating from another culture, and I also appropriate from European ethnic art. Cultural appropriation can be a two-way street. This collaboration with sketch has given me an opportunity to expand my creative process - creating a different environment to encounter and experience my art in a fun and relaxing setting.”


India Mahdavi commented: “The Gallery at sketch has been linked to the colour pink for such a long time that it was very challenging for me to overcome this success. Yinka’s artwork was a real inspiration and enticed me to work differently in this new version of the Gallery. Now textures will transcend colours with metallic copper wallpaper, Aissa Dione’s textured fabric and Inès Bressand’s woven wall-lights. These are elements that have allowed me to extend Yinka’s artistic exploration of culture and identity and bring a warm feel of Africa to the space and furnishings”


MasterChef, Pierre Gagnaire, has created a dish in homage to the artist. For Shonibare, Gagnaire debuts ‘Yinka Rice’, a dish of West African Jollof rice scented with ginger and cumin, served with spicy tomato, soya sauce and roasted plantain. 


Bar Director Luca Fugazza has devised ‘Yinka Zobo’, a cocktail of dark rum, pineapple liqueur, lime juice, honey syrup, ginger beer.


Asked about the venue’s transformation, Mourad Mazouz, the Proprietor of sketch said “I was very afraid to change the pink room as David Shrigley is a part of sketch. Then I was introduced to Yinka Shonibare, and I thought, my God, the master himself wants to work with sketch. It was like I was dreaming. Yinka’s work is so powerful, intelligent, and mythical, and I am so pleased to share it with sketch's visitors from all over the world.”


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