Yinka Shonibare MBE curates the Arts Council Collection in a new touring exhibition that opens at the Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter on 19 January 2019.
Criminal Ornamentation explores the cultural and social dimensions of the use of pattern in art. The exhibition title refers to Adolf Loos' 'Ornament and Crime' (1908) a strongly worded essay in which Loos ridiculed the use of ornament as an indication of poor taste and the lowest level of cultural development. As a counterblast to Loos’ bombastic text, Yinka Shonibare MBE presents an explosion of pattern and colour bringing together works from across the visual arts including an acidic wallpaper by Glasgow-based designers, Timorous Beasties, the sculptural torso of Tattoo, a subversive work by Edward Lipski and the flowing vegetation of Honeysuckle, a design by May Morris.
Unified by pattern, the exhibition is a personal selection by Yinka Shonibare MBE from the Arts Council Collection’s rich and varied holdings supplemented by key loans from the V&A, Crafts Council, William Morris Society and individual artists based across the UK. Threading through the patterned surfaces are many challenging themes - from politics and colonialism to gender stereotypes and inequality. Criminal Ornamentation is an exploration of pattern as a genuine expression that breaks away from traditional conceptions of art and seeks to celebrate the radical deviancy of pattern.