Thursday 25 July 2013

Caulfield and Hume Exhibition, Tate Britain

I’m a big fan of Patrick Caulfield, and have been ever since I was an A-Level graphic design student and first studied his work (I may even be able to find my project! Watch this space…). Caulfield always steered away from the label of “Pop Artist”, preferring “Formal Artist”, which was new term to me. I hadn’t understood why, but learning now that formalism means looking at the form and style of objects and representing how they are made, I agree that this is a much more suitable description. This not only explains Caulfield’s style, but of course influences his subject matter too.

The five rooms of the exhibition take you through Caulfield’s work chronologically. For me, Room 3 was the winner, as it housed my most favourite Caulfield painting, After Lunch. Although I loved it before, the size (just over eight feet high) really draws you in, until you're there, with the waiter at the end of his long shift. Many people dismiss modern art as being simple and unsophisticated, but the great thing about Caulfield’s work, and especially After Lunch, is that the longer you look, the more you notice. There are always new things to find, like the light and the rope in the bottom left corner, which lead you downstairs to a whole other floor (the loos, from my experience of restaurants!). His representation of form, from the straight ceiling beams to the curved dining chairs are technically accurate and amazingly effortless all at the same time. Caulfield also plays with different styles of representation in his work and here, the mural of the French château by the lake is such a beautiful show-off of how talented he really was.

Although I wasn’t too keen on his later work (a little too abstract for me, sorry), I did make some lovely new finds, like Town and Country, and Foyer, which belongs to a certain Mr. David Bowie… it all makes sense now ;)

Having bought the ticket to see Caulfield, you also gain entry to the Gary Hume exhibition. Hume is known for his use of bold, gloss paint on aluminium, which has an incredible effect. It was like the little girl with the little curl in the middle of her forehead; when I liked a work, the medium amplified my enjoyment, but when I didn’t like the work, I could hardly bear to stand in front of it! Focusing on the good, I loved Blackbird and the amazing textures created in Tulipsalthough sadly the t-shirt in the gift shop was above my price range. I was also amused by Beautiful, which shows Michael Jackson’s nostrils superimposed onto a subtle outline of Kate Moss’ face.

There was also the opportunity to take a Hume home with you! His work 1000 Windows offers visitors the chance to buy up to four “windows” for £150, therefore spreading the work potentially across the world.

Find out more about the exhibition here. Open until 1st September.

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