This June Waddington Custot Galleries
presents a wide-ranging survey of works by the late Royal Academician Patrick Caulfield. Sensitive preparatory drawings and studies for prints offer a rare glimpse into the process behind the artists precisely executed paintings, a selection of which will also be on display. By assembling works in various mediums, the exhibition charts the multi-faceted development of one of the finest artists of 20th Century Britain.
Dissatisfied with the Pop Art label, Caulfield achieved a contemporary coolness by blending a number of styles. His early paintings Perfume Jar (1964) and View of the Rooftops (1965) show his commitment to realist subjects but adopt the bright colours, thick outlines and geometric clarity of formalism. A range of preparatory drawings from the 1970s such as Study for In My Room and Study for Paradise Bar (both circa 1974) meticulously gridded and marked by cautious flashes of colour demonstrate the careful consideration behind the perfectly balanced large-scale paintings of interiors that cemented his reputation. Devoid of human subjects, these works achieve a sense of artifice and theatricality in spite of Caulfields formal economy. By the 1980s, Caulfield was also using relief within his paintings to add further definition to the still-life objects.
Light emerges as one of Caulfields central preoccupations; his in-depth studies of lampshades from one of the artists sketchbooks, as well as a number of his paintings, Glass of Whisky (1987) and Corner Lamp (1998), feature areas of dramatic light and shadow played out on canvas and board. This theme continues in Caulfields surreal set design for his commission for Michael Corders ballet Party Game, staged at the Royal Opera House in 1984. Gigantic lampshades form a fantastical backdrop, shedding light in alternate bars of yellow and black, recalling the strong blocks of colour in his canvasses. These designs are being shown to the public for the very first time at Waddington Custot Galleries.
Patrick Caulfield was born in East Acton, London, in 1936. After leaving school he worked in the design department of Crosse & Blackwell before attending Chelsea School of Art (1956-60) and the Royal College of Art (1960-63). Along with fellow RCA students David Hockney, Allen Jones and R.B. Kitaj, Caulfield became a member of Britains New Generation artists, named after the 1965 landmark exhibition at Whitechapel Art Gallery. He held his first solo exhibition at the Robert Fraser Gallery in 1965 and his first of fourteen solo exhibitions at Waddington Galleries in 1968. Caulfield was nominated for the Turner Prize in 1987 and was made a CBE in 1996. His work has been the subject of retrospectives at the Walker Art Gallery (1981), Tate Gallery (1981), Serpentine Gallery (1992) and Hayward Gallery (1999). His many varied commissions have included a stained glass window for the Ivy Restaurant (1990) and a 12-metre-square carpet for the British Council (1992). Patrick Caulfield died in 2005.