Southampton the final stop for Criminal Ornamentation: Yinka Shonibare CBE curates the Arts Council Collection

25 Jun 2019

Following a successful tour of the UK, Southampton City Art Gallery is proud to host Criminal Ornamentation, which brings together works from the Arts Council Collection, curated by Yinka Shonibare CBE.

Included in the exhibition are works by many celebrated artists such as Timorous Beasties, Susan Derges, Laura Ford, Ed Lipski, Alexander McQueen, Milena Dragicevic, Lis Rhodes, Bridget Riley, Yinka Shonibare CBE, Caragh Thuring and Bedwyr Williams, many of whom feature within Southampton’s own permanent collection.

 Yinka Shonibare CBE, Line Painting, 2003, © the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery (London)  Edward Lipski, Tattoo, 1998. Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London © the artist
Yinka Shonibare CBE, Line Painting, 2003, Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London. © the artist and Stephen Friedman Gallery (London) Bridget Riley – Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London © Bridget Riley 2019. All rights reserved Edward Lipski, Tattoo, 1998. Arts Council Collection, Southbank Centre, London © the artist


Reflective of Shonibare’s own practice, this exhibition explores the cultural and social dimensions of the use of pattern in modern and contemporary art. The title of the show is taken from Adolf Loos’ 1908 influential essay ‘Ornament and Crime’. In this essay Loos’ examines the notions of good and bad taste and condemns the use of decoration and craft as an indication of the lowest level of cultural development, to the extent of stating ‘the modern man who tattoos himself is a criminal.’ Yinka challenges this notion by saying ‘Adolf Loos was clearly a man of his time in his snobbish revolutionary zeal to abandon ornamentation as he saw it as the pre-occupation of the working classes and degenerates’.

Included in the exhibition are a range of works that Shonibare has chosen to challenge the notion of the ornament as crime as well as works that aim to break down the boundaries of gender association through the use of pattern and fabric. An embroidered evening dress and a metallic clutch bag by fashion designer Alexander McQueen are placed in Criminal Ornamentation alongside other works, blurring the boundaries between high and low art, cheap and luxurious, craft and art.

Yinka Shonibare CBE said: ‘Criminal Ornamentation’ is about the refusal of artists to stay away from vulgar ornamentation and obsessive popular repetition of pattern. Cheers to all the criminals!!’

Jill Constantine, Director of the Arts Council Collection said: ‘Yinka Shonibare CBE is one of the most innovative and exciting artists working in Britain today and we were delighted when he accepted our invitation to curate an exhibition from the Arts Council Collection. Deliberately avoiding conventional ideas of curating he has produced not only a visually stunning exhibition but one which questions the place of decoration and ornament in 21st century art and culture and our notions of ‘taste’ in a playful and evocative way.’

Councillor Satvir Kaur, cabinet member for homes and culture, Southampton City Council, said: “On the back of the success of the Leonardo da Vinci exhibition, and our announcement to run for UK City of Culture 2025, we’re thrilled to bring you this bold exhibition curated by international artist Yinka Shonibare CBE. Criminal Ornamentation is a thought-provoking explosion of colour and pattern that has been on tour across the UK and we’re delighted that Southampton is to be the final destination for this stunning selection of artworks.  We look forward to welcoming local residents and visitors alike to see this great exhibition.”              

Full list of artists:

Bridget Riley, Sean Scully, Michael Kidner, Joe Tilson, Phillip Allen, Yinka Shonibare CBE, Norman Dilworth, Andy Holden, Caragh Thuring, Bashir Makhoul, Lis Rhodes, Edwin Li, Gareth Jones, Peter Collingwood, James Maskrey, Philip Eglin, Stephen Dixon, Emilie Taylor, Bedwyr Williams, Timorous Beasties, Fran Robinson, Claire Curneen, Candace Bahouth, Sarah Lucas, Simon Martin, David Batchelor, Alexander McQueen, Marios Schwab, Tom Gallant, Susie Freeman, Claire Barclay, Hew Locke, Louis Hopkins, William Morris, May Morris, Janice Kerbel, Karl Maughan, Anya Gallaccio, Pavlos Dionyssopoulos, Susan Derges, David Nash, Andy Goldsworthy, John Newling, Lynn Silverman, David Hepher, Rachel Whiteread, Idris Khan, Ron McCormick, Derek Ridgers, Larry Herman, Dennis Hearne, Roger Mayne, Peter Mitchell, Paul Graham, Martin Parr, Bill Brandt, Paul Trevor, Chris Killip, Tim Head, Brian Alterio, David Chadwick, Oscar Mellor, Laura Ford, Jane Ackroyd, Mark Neville, Ryan Mosley, Kenny Macleod, Lisa Milroy, Mona Hatoum, Graham Gussin, Faisal Abdu’Allah, Milena Dragicevic, Sonia Boyce, Cathy De Monchaux, Edward Lipski, Mawuena Kattah

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The Arts Council Collection

The Arts Council Collection is a national loan collection of British art from 1946 to the present day. With more than 8,000 works and more than 1,000 loans made to over 100 venues a year, it is seen by millions of people in public spaces from galleries and museums to hospitals, libraries and universities. Representing one of the most important collections of British modern and contemporary art in the world, it includes work from Francis Bacon, Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore to Lucian Freud, Antony Gormley and Grayson Perry. The Collection supports and promotes British artists by acquiring art at an early stage of their careers. The Arts Council Collection is managed by Southbank Centre, London and includes the Sculpture Centre located at Longside, Yorkshire Sculpture Park.


Yinka Shonibare

Yinka Shonibare CBE (b. London, UK, 1962–) moved to Lagos, Nigeria at the age of three. He returned to the UK to study Fine Art at Byam Shaw School of Art, London and Goldsmiths College, London, where he received his Masters in Fine Art. He has become known for his exploration of colonialism and post-colonialism within the context of globalization. Through his interdisciplinary practice, Shonibare’s work examines race, class and the construction of cultural identity through a sharp political commentary of the tangled interrelationship between Africa and Europe and their respective economic and political histories. In 2004, he was nominated for the Turner Prize and in 2008, his midcareer survey began at Museum of Contemporary Art, Sydney; touring to the Brooklyn Museum, New York and the Museum of African Art at the Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C. In 2010, his first public art commission Nelson’s Ship in a Bottle was displayed on the Fourth Plinth in Trafalgar Square, London, and was acquired by the National Maritime Museum, Greenwich, London. His work is included in notable museum collections including Tate, London; the National Museum of African Art, Smithsonian Institute, Washington D.C.; Museum of Modern Art, New York; Moderna Museet, Stockholm and the Museum of Contemporary Art, Chicago among others.

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