Sir Peter Blake | Side Show | Paul Stolper Gallery
London | 27 November – 10 January, 2015
Start the new year off with this Peter Blake exhibition at the Paul Stolper gallery in London.
• Peter Blake curates an exhibition of his seminal ‘Side-Show’ series of wood-engravings showcasing his nostalgia for the circus and side-shows, as well as the ephemera of these popular entertainments,
• The work is displayed for the first time together with photographs, proofs, studies and drawings from Blake’s personal archive highlighting the inspiration, process and genesis of the work,
• Exhibition marks the launch of two new highly detailed etchings by Peter Blake, a wrestler and a tattooed girl. Both published by Paul Stolper Gallery, these reveal an entirely new medium and style in Blake’s oeuvre.
Paul Stolper Gallery is pleased to announce ‘Side-Show’, an in-depth exploration of one of Peter Blake’s most iconic portfolios, consisting of five wood-engravings titled ‘Tattooed Man’, ‘Bearded Lady’, ‘Midget’, ‘Fat Boy’ and ‘Giant’ made between 1974 – 1978. The seminal series, examples of which are held in the collections of the Museum of Modern Art, New York; The Metropolitan, New York; the British Council, London and British Museum, London, is displayed for the first time alongside photographs, proofs, studies and drawings from Blake’s personal archive.
In Blake’s hands, postcards, magazines, posters and record sleeves become legitimate source material for making art and he collects them with the same avid passion as a fan or enthusiast.
Speaking of his nostalgia for circus imagery and popular entertainment, Blake comments, “ There’s a whole background to it, but really it’s a class thing, a working class thing. When I was a kid these were my interests – the fairgrounds, circuses, rock’n’roll. So, at a certain point in making art, when I had to make a decision about what to do, I thought, “be autobiographical ”. Well, it wasn’t that conscious… but the work became very autobiographical and about popular culture, and that’s what became Pop art. And it’s still there. I still go to circuses when I can, and concerts.”
The prints in the exhibition display Blake’s extraordinary refinement of the medium of wood engraving; inscribed using a fine-pointed burin into a hard end-grain wood block. Blake studied wood-engraving as a student, but is largely self-taught. The engravings of Eric Ravilious, Edward Bawden, Paul Nash and Claire Leighton amongst others influenced Blake to produce his first two prints, ‘Tiny T.N.T. Tantrum The Pocket Prince’ in 1973 and ‘A Souvenir of the Bath Festival’ in 1974.