Peter Blake, one of the leading figures of British Pop Art, exhibits work from two series 1–10 and Marcel Duchamp’s World Tour in his forthcoming exhibition at Waddington Galleries.
1–10 emphasizes the fact that ‘I don’t always work in one style.’ Blake explores various techniques from drawing, collage and assemblage, to sculpture and painting using diverse materials from paper, wood and stone, to found objects, pencil, and bronze. The amount of works incorporated in each group increase according to their number. In ‘No.1, Museum of the Colour White 1’, small objects are assembled on one board into a careful and studied meditation on the colour white. ‘No. 8’ consists of eight small panels of collections of wood, stone, paper and found objects; each a small memento of family holidays, moments with friends, walks on the beach. ‘No.10’ consists of ten equally sized frames, each assemblages of collected and found objects made up of personal souvenirs and tokens of popular culture.
Peter Blake is a fan; from movie stars and pop icons such as Marilyn Monroe and Elvis Presley to influential artists such as Joseph Cornell and Kurt Schwitters. In ‘No.2’, two collage-paintings display images of Marilyn Monroe mounted above symmetrical fields of bright solid colours; thus combining the intimacy of fan memorabilia with the impact of public signs. In ‘No.3’ and ‘No.6’ Blake pays homage to those artists that he admires. In works such as these he surrendered his personal style in order to enter the mind-sets of his idols Kurt Schwitters, Joseph Cornell and Max Ernst, amongst others. He selected subjects they would have chosen, and carried out an extensive performance to bring them to fruition. (Natalie Rudd)
Marcel Duchamp’s World Tour is based on Blake’s belief that wherever Marcel Duchamp stopped in the art world he had a strong effect on it. Each painting follows a fantasy journey in which Marcel Duchamp travels through unidentified places meeting other artists (e.g. Damien Hirst, Pablo Picasso, Edward Hopper) and popular idols (Tarzan, Elvis, The Spice Girls). As he tours the world in his rock ‘n’ roll bus, fantasy situations play out around him. In ‘The Artist’s Fancy Dress Ball’, Blake borrows well known images from high art painted with naturalistic brilliance: Picasso, dressed as Touchstone from Shakespeare’s As you Like It, taken from Johan Zoffany’s late 18th Century portrait of Thomas King, leads the party joined by Edward Hopper and Marcel Duchamp dressed as figures from Picasso’s ‘Family of Saltimbanques’ with Damien Hirst as Watteau’s Pierrot. In ‘Playing Chess with Tracey’ (2003–2005), Duchamp plays chess with Tracey Emin in the desert surroundings of her video self-portrait, ‘Sometimes...’ (2000), while three enigmatic cowboys wait by the bus.