Saturday, 23 January 2016

Peter Blake: Portraits and People

Made sure I caught this Peter Blake show before it closes later this month. This is the first show in his career dedicated solely to his portraiture, and it displays a good range of his artistic styles incorporated in his portrait work, such as collages, watercolours, acrylics and oils. This exhibition also incorporates Blake's figurative sculptures created from cigar boxes and other ephemera.

This is a fantastic collage entitled Aquarium and it is the first artwork to greet you in the exhibition. It is large and incorporates a range of historical portraits taken from a variety of found printed sources. All of the people in the picture look out of the picture plane rather than at the fish in the aquarium.

These are commissions and personal portraits of friends and colleagues demonstrating Blake's techniques in the show. Below is a study from life of Helen Mirren.

The back room of the gallery is a dedicated homage to one of Blake's musical heroes - Elvis, and contains lots of memorabilia, all artfully curated and displayed in the form of two shrines.

My favourite works in this exhibition, and throughout Blake's career, are the fictional characters/portraits that he creates for wrestlers, exotic dancers and tattooed men and women. I like that their facial features are taken from different photographic sources, and that in some cases those facial features are too large for the heads of the character giving them an odd appearance, which somehow seems to suit their fictional personas. The thing that comes through in these works, like that of the Elvis shrines is that Blake is really a fan of his subject matter, and popular culture in general.

Peter Blake: Portraits and People
until 30th January
Waddington Custot
11 Cork Street