The Whitworth Tapestry 1967
A thought-provoking and evocative exhibition challenging the constraints of humanity, society and our relationship with the world around us.
An artist of obsessions and great intelligence, Paolozzi entertains, mocks and rages both at his audience and about them in a powerful visual display spanning textiles to sculpture.
From the deceptive mess of his seemingly haphazard early mark-making experiments, Paolozzi transfers his attention to screen-printing, an entirely different process with meticulous attention to detail. Screen-printing becomes, along with his sculptures, his principal means for self-expression.
And express himself he does, loud and clear, with bold, fantastic colour and unforgiving graphics.
Whichever media Paolozzi is working in or whatever question or argument his attention turns to, collage is a common factor that runs throughout; the evident reason for this being that Paolozzi does not set out to create a ‘finished piece’ – a work that encapsulates everything – but instead understands and accepts that his work is a constant continuation of ideas and development. In the same fractured way that our thought processes might operate, his work on his numerous themes of interest mimics the chaotic and often wonderfully complex human consciousness.
His themes span from understanding and exploring our relationship with modern technology to scathing and aggressive attacks on ‘consumer art’ and the Tate modern. Irony and humour are omnipresent: Paolozzi despairs of society’s insistence on injecting meaning into objects and imagery, yet uses that same imagery with all its transposed significance to communicate his own message. He is seemingly unafraid of confronting any subject matter that takes his fancy, and you cannot help but feel humbled by his passion not only for his art, but for his frustration at us and the society we have created.
I knew with a sinking sensation, as I re-entered the shop on the ground floor to see what trinket I might purchase to retain an essence of the exhibition, that I had been weighed and measured and found wanting! Although sometimes spiteful, sardonic and unromantic, you cannot help but smile at Paolozzi’s wit and unrelenting eloquence.
Lots of pictures lots of fun – pop art redefined, 1971
Calcium Light Night, series of 9 screen-prints, 1974-6
Parrot, 1965, from a series of 12 screen-prints