Bold Bright Art In Two Retrospectives At Tate Britain

Tabish Khan
By Tabish Khan Last edited 58 months ago
Bold Bright Art In Two Retrospectives At Tate Britain
Patrick Caulfield, Cafe Interior: Afternoon 1973. Private collection
Patrick Caulfield, Cafe Interior: Afternoon 1973. Private collection
Gary Hume, Tulips 2009, Private collection, courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery.
Gary Hume, Tulips 2009, Private collection, courtesy Matthew Marks Gallery.
Patrick Caulfield, Pottery 1969. Image courtesy Tate
Patrick Caulfield, Pottery 1969. Image courtesy Tate
Gary Hume, Blackbird 1998, Private collection, London. Image courtesy Tate.
Gary Hume, Blackbird 1998, Private collection, London. Image courtesy Tate.
Patrick Caulfield, Selected Grapes 1981, British Council Collection. Image courtesy Tate.
Patrick Caulfield, Selected Grapes 1981, British Council Collection. Image courtesy Tate.
Gary Hume, The Cradle 2011, Private collection. Image courtesy Tate.
Gary Hume, The Cradle 2011, Private collection. Image courtesy Tate.

Pop art is bold, bright and eye-catching. Gary Hume and Patrick Caulfield are two British artists associated with this movement — though Caulfield always resisted this genre label — and they have a joint retrospective at Tate Britain.

First we have three rooms of Hume, the more minimalist and abstract of the pair. His best pieces are also his darkest. For instance, a young mother with child looks anything but young. Her eyes are bleary, and wrinkles point to a lack of sleep. It's a contradictory and truthful take on the traditional portrait where both mother and child appear happy.

This irreverent sense of humour continues in his simple barn door and 'back of a snowman' — further antagonising those who look at modern art and say "I could do that". It's only when his work strays into the abstract that it fails to make an impact.

Caulfield is a more representative artist and his works are significantly more eye-catching. Pastel pinks contrast with dark greens, and one painting of a room is awash with an orange glow. Our favourite work is a Tandoori restaurant bathed in a deep purple that gives the setting an opulence that the outline cannot convey by itself.

While Caulfield's works are undeniably pleasing aesthetically, there's very little else to them. They look great, but staring at them for longer doesn't produce any subtle nuances. The works would look pleasing in a high-end living room, but in a gallery environment they don't possess the depth to measure up.

Both artists create attention-grabbing work with Caulfield likely to be the crowd pleaser, but spending time with the smaller display of Hume's work is more rewarding.

Patrick Caulfield and Gary Hume are on at Tate Britain from 5 June-1 September. Tickets are £14.50 for adults, concessions available. A ticket covers entrance for both exhibitions.

A separate exhibition of Patrick Caulfield prints will be at Alan Cristea Gallery, 31 & 34 Cork St, W1S 3NU from 6 June-13 July. Admission is free.

Last Updated 04 June 2013

AndrewBolton

These are fantastic pieces of artwork. I am glad they are being shown at the gallery.