Yinka Shonibare MBE (RA)

Present

Criminal Ornamentation

Yinka Shonibare MBE curates the Arts Council Collection

The Arts Council Collection touring exhibition, Criminal Ornamentation opens at Attenborough Arts Centre, Leicester, 21 September-16 December 2018, then tours throughout the UK.

Yinka Shonibare MBE curates a new Arts Council Collection touring exhibition opening at Attenborough Arts Centre, Leicester, this September. Criminal Ornamentation features a number of celebrated artists including Timorous Beasties, Susan Derges, Laura Ford, Ed Lipski, Alexander McQueen, Milena Dragicevic, Lis Rhodes, Bridget Riley, Yinka Shonibare MBE, Caragh Thuring and Bedwyr Williams. Reflective of Yinka’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 Shonibare MBE 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. Shonibare looks to embrace colour, ornament and pattern as a means for social and political expression. Acclaimed artist Bridget Riley, for example, uses geometric patterns and repetition within Ecclesia (1985). Operating as more than bands of colour and stripes; Riley creates new shapes and spaces by changing the viewer’s point of perception. Similarly, Andy Holden’s Totem for Thingly Time, a sculptural piece formed of dripping plaster was made as an attempt to ‘reveal the time of its own construction’. Painter Sean Scully creates an interplay of expansion and restriction through the constant repetition of lines and structures within his work.  

Bedwyr Williams’ The Burn, a shell-encrusted metal BBQ, plays with the idea of ‘kitsch’ - highlighting issues surrounding class, taste and snobbery. These themes are also documented in Ron McCormick’s Man by China Stall; a photograph depicting a man surrounded by decorative pottery that was popular at the time but considered ‘kitsch’ by the elite. These works explore how society’s taste changes over time and examines the crossover between ornaments, craft and art. A number of works in the exhibition suggest the diverse potential of abstract patterns within art. As well as acting as decorative pieces, they explore postcolonialism and the strong connection between individuals and society. Bashir Makhoul’s Zigzag explores the theme of politics through the use of Islamic pattern; the painting questions ‘western capitalism and the Eastern Oil Empire’. Ardyne Point by Caragh Thuring draws inspiration from a local protest at a Scottish oil rig yard, using pattern to create a multitude of opportunities for different interpretations. Comedy is often present throughout the exhibition, Timorous Beasties’ ‘London Toile’ wallpaper, for example, portrays a dark sense of humour in its mismatch between form and content. From a distance the work resembles a traditional chintz pattern, however up close there are many shocking contemporary references including the depiction of a mugging, a seemingly homeless man on a park bench and a recognisable brutalist landmark, the Trellick Tower. Throughout the exhibition, it is possible to see evidence of Yinka Shonibare MBE aiming 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.

Tour details:

Attenborough Arts Centre, Leicester - 21 September-16 December 2018
Royal Albert Memorial Museum, Exeter - 19 January-16 March 2019
Longside Gallery, Arts Council Collection, Wakefield - 5 April-16 June 2019
Southampton Art Gallery - 28 June-28 September 2019

 

 

Yinka Shonibare MBE, Julio-Claudian, A Marble Torso of Emperor, 2018
Yinka Shonibare MBE, Julio-Claudian, A Marble Torso of Emperor, 2018

Yinka Shonibare MBE: Ruins Decorated

Goodman Gallery Johannesburg

YINKA SHONIBARE MBE: RUINS DECORATED

Goodman Gallery Johannesburg

Exhibition opening: Saturday 1 September at 18:00.

On view until 10 October 2018.

Ruins Decorated marks Yinka Shonibare’s first solo exhibition with Goodman Gallery, his second solo in South Africa and a rare moment of visibility on the African continent. For this exhibition of new and never before exhibited work, Shonibare asks questions on what it means to forge modern African identities and complicates debates on cultural appropriation.

What I do is create a kind of mongrel. In reality most people’s cultures have evolved out of this mongrelization, but people don’t acknowledge that. – Yinka Shonibare MBE 

For Yinka Shonibare’s second solo exhibition in Africa and his first on the continent in fifteen years, the British-Nigerian artist presents Ruins Decorated – a new body of work which sparks a state of charged curiosity.

Can an historically dominant culture ever empathise with another culture? 

What happens then when former subjects of the British Empire become cultural hybrids themselves? 

To what culture do they show allegiance? 

Can the hybridisation of icons of power be the solution to breaking down binaries required by dictatorship and prejudice?

Through beguiling sculptures, staged photographs and paintings, film and installation, Shonibare considers narratives of power and reinvention in relation to the rise and fall of western empires and the struggles for African Independence.

Part one of the exhibition presents ruined historical symbols of Roman and British Empires embellished in Dutch wax Indonesian Batik / ‘African’ textiles. Shonibare transforms the classical white marble body into colourful sculptures – the decoration of power in the wrong colours. 

‘Some might say the right colours, as the original classical sculptures would have been painted in bright colours’, Shonibare points out. ‘That is before Johann Winchelmann, the 19th century historian, created his fallacy of the superiority of the white classical marble sculpture’.

More questions, and possible solutions, surface:

Can the seemingly ruined be remade in the inclusive colours of the excluded? 

Can the power of collusion and hybridisation create a third ideal which transcends prejudice? 

This exploration of hyphenated or ‘mongrelised’ selves prompts ways for expanding dialogues on cultural ‘appropriation’, teasing out possibilities for re-imagining modern African identities that complicate essentialist constructs of race and nationality. 

Part two of Ruins Decorated juxtaposes Addio Del Passato (2011), a film about a colonial hero’s betrayal of his wife and his eventual decline, alongside a series of photographs in which Admiral Nelson’s death is re-imagined through the depiction of death in historical paintings. Nelson’s demise is re-enacted and his image (donning a uniform made out of ‘African’ textiles) is transformed through its decoration. 

Part three – the sculpture Post-Colonial Globe Man – presents a man wearing Victorian clothes made out of another variation of ‘African’ pattern, balancing precariously on a large globe. The globe shows a map of the British Empire before the first world war. The man’s head is replaced with another globe, depicting a post-colonial map of the world as it looks today.

Part four, The African Library, considers the contributions of people like Kwame Nkrumah and Nelson Mandela to African independence struggles following the second world war. For this installation, 5000 books have been covered in ‘African’ textiles and bear the names of post-independence African presidents and famous Africans in literature, science, music, art, engineering and theatre as well as pro-African Europeans. The African Library is to be presented in this iteration for the first time. 

While the exhibition marks a rare moment of visibility for the artist on the African continent, it also forms part of an increasing momentum to engage with Shonibare’s practice in South Africa, following Addio Del Passato on Zeitz MOCAA’s inaugural exhibition in 2017 and soon to be followed by the Norval Foundation’s exhibition of Wind Sculpture (SG) III in February 2019. 

http://www.goodman-gallery.com

 

The American Library

'The American Library' 2018 at Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art, July 14 - September 30

The American Library, 2018

Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art, July 14 - September 30

https://www.theamericanlibraryinstallation.com

 

The American Library by Yinka Shonibare MBE is a celebration of the diversity of the American population. It aims to be an instigator of discovery and debate. The thousands of books in this art installation are covered in the artist’s signature Dutch wax printed cotton textile. These fabrics were originally based on Indonesian batik textiles, made in the Netherlands and sold in West Africa. Since the 1960s this fabric has been celebrated as a symbol of African identity. The mixed origins of the fabric make it a perfect metaphor for the multicultural identity embedded in the history of the United States.

On the spines of many of these books are, printed in gold, the names of people who immigrated, or whose antecedents immigrated to the United States. On other books are the names of African Americans who relocated or whose parents relocated out of the American South during the Great Migration. These names include W. E. B. Du Bois, Maria Goeppert Mayer, Steve Jobs, Bruce Lee, Ana Mendieta, Joni Mitchell, Toni Morrison, Barack Obama, Steven Spielberg, Carl Stokes, Donald Trump and Tiger Woods. These people have all made a significant contribution to aspects of American life and culture and represent every field from science to activism, music to philosophy and art to literature. Most of these people have also experienced varying degrees of discrimination and hardship during and after their or their family’s relocation. A further set of books within the library features the names of people who have spoken out against immigration, equality or diversity in America.

Through the website included in this installation you can learn more about the reasons for the migration of large groups of people and access content looking at immigration and internal mass migration from pro, anti and neutral viewpoints. Further information about the individuals named on the books is also available on this site.

The American Library is inspired by the ongoing debates about immigration and diversity in the United States, such as the discussion around the travel ban and the proposal to build a wall on the Mexican border to reduce immigration. It also looks at the discrimination against certain groups within the United States, despite their contributions to the country.

This installation asks us to consider what our society would be without the gifts that America’s immigrant populations and minority groups have brought to this land. It represents those seen as the ‘other’ who have made a valuable contribution to the nation’s history. However, it also looks at the people who have spoken out against those they don’t see as ‘truly American’ as a way to further explore these complex issues at the forefront of American life today.

This work was commissioned by Front International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art with funds from VIA Art Fund and with the assistance of James Cohan Gallery, New York. It is on display at Cleveland Public Library from July 14 until September 20, 2018.

 

FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art

FRONT International: Cleveland Triennial for Contemporary Art is an exhibition comprised of artist commissions, performances, films, and public programs that will launch its inaugural edition in July of 2018. An American City: Eleven Cultural Exercises, in collaboration with museums, civic institutions, and alternative spaces across Cleveland, Akron and Oberlin, will showcase an ambitious roster of projects, including performance and theater throughout the landscape and built environment. With a roster of national, international and area-based artists at all points in their career, FRONT will examine the ever-changing and politically urgent conditions of an American city.

 

 

Yinka Shonibare MBE: Wind Sculpture (SG) I

March 7th 2018 - October 14th 2018 at Doris C. Freedman Plaza, Central Park, New York.

February 21, 2018, NEW YORK, NY— On March 7, Public Art Fund will present Wind Sculpture (SG) I, a new sculpture by Yinka Shonibare MBE commissioned for Doris C. Freedman Plaza at the southeast entrance to Central Park. Created from fiberglass and covered with an intricate pattern, the 23-foot-tall sculpture will rise above the plaza, reminiscent of the untethered sail of a ship billowing in the breeze. Its unique, hand-painted pattern in turquoise, red, and orange — colours that the artist associates with his childhood on the beaches of Lagos — is inspired by Dutch wax batik print, which Shonibare has called the “perfect metaphor for multilayered identities”. This is the first work in a second generation of his celebrated Wind Sculpture series and continues Shonibare’s ongoing examination of the construction of cultural identity through the lens of colonialism. The work will create an opportunity to reflect on social issues associated with our current moment, including the movement of people and ideas across borders and the role of monuments in heterogeneous societies. Yinka Shonibare MBE: Wind Sculpture (SG) I will be on view March 7 – October 14, 2018 in Doris C. Freedman Plaza, Central Park.

“Monumental in scale and imposingly sited on axis with the entrance to Central Park, Yinka Shonibare’s Wind Sculpture (SG) I assumes the aspect of a classical civic monument. However, its lithe and undulating form and its vibrant, colorful surface suggest a very different approach,” says Public Art Fund Director & Chief Curator Nicholas Baume. “This is one of his most abstract works, yet it still tells a story. Its patterned, fluttering sail suggests the geographical, cultural, and personal layers of a migration borne aloft on the cross currents of colonial history.”

Shonibare has described himself as a post-colonial hybrid, and his work in painting, sculpture, photography, film, and performance utilizes unexpected combinations of pattern and form to examine race, class, migration, and identity in a globalized world. The form of Wind Sculpture (SG) I suggests the movement of wind and natural elements rendered three-dimensionally through fabric, but also the sail of a ship, which for centuries was the only means of traversing oceans to exchange culture and ideas. The patterns on the surface are borrowed from vibrant batik textiles, which Shonibare has utilized in many forms and mediums and are often associated with European colonization of West Africa. However, these fabrics have a complicated history and came to the African continent by way of Indonesia through Dutch colonization in the 1800s. Today, these fabrics are still manufactured in the Netherlands, and sold and worn throughout West Africa. With Wind Sculpture (SG) I, Shonibare uses fabric as an entry point to rethink history and meaning and the relationship between Europe and Africa; it presents a story of shifting design and culture that also speaks to the confluence of many identities in public spaces.

In 2013, Shonibare first started working with fiberglass in a large-scale format beginning with the first generation of Wind Sculpture I-VII. Wind Sculpture VII was installed permanently outside the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art in 2016. This transition to a second generation of sculptures includes a design of increased size and complexity, featuring multiple twists and deeper folds in the structure.
 
In conjunction with the exhibition, Yinka Shonibare MBE will give a Public Art Fund Talk in collaboration with the Vera List Center for Art and Politics at The New School on March 5 where he will discuss his new work as it relates to his art practice and working in public space.
 
The exhibition is curated by Public Art Fund Director & Chief Curator Nicholas Baume. 

 

 

Smithsonian National Museum of African Art

Wind Sculpture VII

Wind Sculpture VII is the first sculpture installed permanently in front of the Smithsonian National Museum of African Art. This unique, gold-leaf version of Shonibare’s Wind Sculptures series evokes the sails of ships that have crossed the Atlantic and other oceans, connecting nations through the exchange of ideas, products, and people. In its form, it captures histories that can be inspiring or brutal, but always complex. It suggests that the opening of the seas led not only to the slave trade and colonization, but also to the dynamic contributions of Africans and African heritage worldwide. Using yellow, blue, rose, and gold, Shonibare celebrates the African men, women, and children who have shaped the United States, Great Britain, and other nations of today and for the future.

 

 

 

Nelsons Ship in  Bottle
Nelsons Ship in Bottle
© 2010 Yinka Shonibare MBE

Yinka Shonibare MBE Nelson's Ship in a Bottle

Nelson's HMS Victory

'Nelson's Ship in a Bottle' originally debuted on the fourth plinth in Trafalgar Square and is now permantley on display at The Nation Maritime Museum in Greenwich.The work is an incredibly detailed, scaled-down replica of HMS Victory, on which Nelson died during the Battle of Trafalgar on 21 October 1805. It has 80 cannon and 37 sails set as on the day of battle. The fabrics used were inspired by Indonesian batik, mass-produced by Dutch traders and sold in West Africa.

 

Wind Sculpture Howick Place
Wind Sculpture Howick Place
© 2014 Yinka Shonibare MBE

Yinka Shonibare MBE Wind Sculpture

Commission for Howick Place

Wind Sculpture, a site specific commision, is permanently displayed as part of Howick Place in Victoria, London. Measuring 6 metres by 3 metres, the work explores the notion of harnessing movement, through the idea of capturing and freezing a volume of wind in a moment in time.

 

To look at previous exhibitions see Press

 
©2018. All images are property of Yinka Shonibare MBE (RA).