Monday, 12 December 2016

The Art of Paul Peter Piech

On a trip to Manchester I really enjoyed this survey of strong, graphic prints by Paul Peter Piech (1920-1996), at The People's History Museum. The prints were a perfect fusion of type and image, and given the political dramas and general upheavals across the globe this year it is a very timely and relevant exhibition. Piech is an artist who pricks our conscience with imagery which urges us to respect all other human beings in this world and their rights, irrespective of their race or creed. His art espouses love, peace and equality, and the works for which he became renowned are executed in the wonderful medium of lino cut.

Piech was an American, who after studying at the Cooper Union School of Art in New York, settled in Britain after the Second World War, married, and attended Chelsea School of Art before working in advertising for a number of years, and then going on to teach at various art colleges and then working alongside the master of the linocut - Edward Bawden - at Leicester.

Piech then set up his own Taurus Press, producing books and prints which expressed his views on equality, pacifism and social justice. Perhaps influenced by his Welsh wife, he later moved to Wales and began to reference the prose of Welsh poets in his work. He passed on to the world of spirit in 1996.

Above, a picture of Piech at work in his Hertfordshire studio, and below woodcut and lino-blocks and rollers used by the artist displayed in the exhibition.

I really loved this image also in the exhibition (below), by Mancunian Ern Brooks, who was a member of the Artist International Association who played a role in the peace and labour movements. He was also responsible for selecting work for the Artists For Peace exhibitions of the 1950s which featured the work of Picasso and Matisse. Piech joined and exhibited with the group at a later stage.

These images below about Piech's obvious love of jazz music are really happy, positive and celebratory. They are the perfect antidote to some of his other images about man's inhumanity to his fellow man. I really enjoyed this exhibition and the positive humanitarian qualities of Piech's art which brought to mind the work of fellow American Ben Shahn. There is also another selling exhibition about Piech's work currently in London at Waterhouse and Dodd on Albemarle Street until 17th December.

Dedicated To All Defenders of Human Freedoms: The Art of Peter Paul Piech
until February 12th 2017
The People's History Museum
Left Bank