The Guardian hated it. I loved it. It’s a matter of appreciation for those artists who took part in the Pop Art movement and weren’t recognised as much as, let’s say, Roy Lichtenstein.
Words: Asma Qureshi, Sub-Editor: Desta Wondirad
As you enter, an explosion of primary colours smack you in the face, which is exactly what Pop Art is all about. The Tate’s recent pop art exhibition reveals many artists that strayed from the conventions of Roy Lichtenstein and Claes Oldenburg. It’s an exhibition for the lesser-known artists of the time, who had their own significant places in the movement as well.
What struck me instantly was the work of Rafael Canogar, ‘The Punishment’ (1969). A sculpture positioned in the corner of a room, it depicts a painted silhouette, on the wall, of a policeman holding a baton above his head, and by his feet, a sculpture of a man on the ground protecting his head from the impending strike. This image represents a familiar scene of Spain in the late 60’s. You could stare at the composition for hours and be surprised by the detail of the creases and folds in the sculpted clothing that add so much depth to the posture of the man in his vulnerable state.
As you walk further into the exhibition, the rooms progress and become more feminine. Female artists begin to emerge and all you see is nudes. Breasts, phallic shapes hiding in paintings and reflecting vaginas. Room 7 displays the works of illustrator and graphic designer Jana Zelibska.
The room is beautifully decorated with flowers. A piece called Kandariya-Mahadeva, focuses on influences from the Indian temple itself and touches upon erotic rituals. The walls are plastered with giant pink female crotches, and the most private area covered with a mirror. This concept separates us from the explicit nature of the nude image of a woman, yet engages with us while simultaneously forcing us to see a reflection of our own faces.
As the exhibition advised, sadly, taking photographs of the exhibits was prohibited. It costs £14 to see the exhibition and it’s completely worth it.
Every room talks and relates to people on different levels. Room 6 and Room 7 were the winners for me. They expressed the proud woman and the courage she maintains in the face of society. This exhibition is opposed to learning about the obvious pop artists from our GCSE art classes. It opens your eyes to the whole world, Pop Art wasn’t just made in America and Britain; it breathed art everywhere.
You have till the 16th of January.