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28 Jan

Eye on display in ‘Art & Life’ Exciting Pop Art Exhibition

From an Article published in the Western Mail on 28th January 2011

‘Pop Goes the Easle!” By Arts Correspondent David Owens.

Pop Art first came to prominence in the ’60s but is now facing a colourful renaissance thanks to new breed of British artists. Dave Owens previews an exciting show that throws the spotlight on these emerging talents. THINK of pop art and what images does this conjure up for you? Sir Peter Blake’s iconic Sergeant Pepper’s Lonely Hearts Club Band cover maybe? Robert Lichtenstein’s much aped Whaam! fighter pilot painting possibly? Or at a guess, Andy Warhol’s legendary multi-coloured Marilyn Monroe portraits?

All three pioneering pop artists had their heyday in the Swinging Sixties, but now thanks to the high profile of British Pop Art svengali Damien Hirst, this most colourful of art forms is facing another upsurge in popularity. An exhibition that opens this week at the Off The Wall gallery in Cardiff aims to showcase the new generation of Brit pop artists. Art & Life – Exciting Pop Art Show opens tomorrow and showcases impressive work from the likes of Youngerman, Brian Weavers, Ed Chapman and former Welsh Student Artist of the Year Jason Davies.

The Private Show at the Off The Wall Gallery, Cardiff.

Also among the new breed that will be exhibiting is Welsh artist Glyn Bateman. The 33-year-old former web designer will be showing his striking, socially-aware form of Pop Art. The artist says his inspiration for his work came from an unlikely source.

“The ideas for my work developed during the start of the recession in 2008 when I had begun my MA,” explains the Cardiff Art School graduate. “I experienced the bleakness of the empty shop windows in my local village, which were full of whitewash and redundant window graphics and this gave me the idea to experiment with materials used in commercial signage such as vinyl, which became part of the visual language of the work.“Essentially, I wanted to create windows full of my own decals that would reflect upon the world and offer social commentary upon the human condition and living in 21st century contemporary society.“Despite the hardships of the recession, I also wanted to comment upon the corporations who were largely unscathed by it. “So I have also produced work using more expensive processes, whose features would become part of the work, such as developing large metallic photographic prints and mounting them between perspex and aluminium.“The end results give the work a pristine, high sheen and corporate aesthetic which also ties in to the idea of ‘boom-time’ excessive commodity culture, our emotional ties to products, brands and perfectly produced commodities.“The high sheen of the work points directly towards the shiny, superficial, pure surfaces we encounter in our shopping experiences.“I’d have to say that my work teeters more towards a kind of perverse pop because it endeavours to blur the lines between enflaming consumer desire while simultaneously offering a critique upon corporate consumer society and the saturation of globalised brands.”

Eye (Single Tile Edition)

The artist has firm views on what exactly Pop Art is.“For me it’s any work that affirms, celebrates or criticises popular culture,” he states. “It’s a popular art that isolates or re-appropriates objects, logos and materials used and found within mass media communications and popular consumer culture.”

As for his Pop Art heroes, the usual suspects loom large, as well as the ever present spectre of a certain British enfant terrible.“I love the work of Robert Rauschenburg, and also Roy Lichtenstein,” says Bateman. “Lichtenstein questioned the idea of the artist’s own individual style against the commercial trademark and the brushstroke verses the mechanised process.“I would say that my work aligns itself towards this idea too, as I endeavour to convey the idea of the individual consciousness versus overwhelming globalisation.“I would also say that love him or hate him, Damien Hirst has been clever in the way he has embraced using media spin and the spectacle.“I once met Hirst in 1997, aboard the Paddle Steamer Waverley. He was very much playing up to his bad boy celebrity persona and was quite obscene!“The celebrity persona was something that Andy Warhol ascribed to and Hirst has obviously carried it on from where Warhol left off.

Close Encounters of the Hirst Kind (1997)

“Hirst has cleverly harnessed the power of 21st century global media communications to market both his celebrity persona and his work to all corners of the world.“The Diamond Skull ‘For the Love of God’ (his 2007 work) is currently the most expensive piece of contemporary art ever produced by a living artist at £50m, the price alone became the work and attracted massive public attention. He himself is recognised as a brand.“Now that is pop – become a commodity yourself!”

Art & Life – Exciting Pop Art Show opens at the Off The Wall Gallery, The Old Probate Registry, Cardiff Road, Llandaff, Cardiff, tomorrow and runs until February 22

For more information about the exhibition please contact: art@galleryoffthewall.com or visit: www.galleryoffthewall.com

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