Magazine article The Spectator

Quiet Exuberance

Magazine article The Spectator

Quiet Exuberance

Article excerpt

Patrick Caulfield (born 1936) is riding high. Almost the entirety of his last commercial exhibition (also at Waddington's, his dealers since 1969) was sold to Charles Saatchi, and it has just been announced that a forthcoming British Council retrospective of his work will not only tour internationally, but will also have an English venue at the Hayward Gallery. From the evidence of his current show, it looks as if Caulfield has allowed himself to feel encouraged. A notoriously slow painter, he has bucked his own trend and produced 11 new paintings this year, all of which are on display. Admittedly they are not the huge six-footers he regulary produces, for all are done in a uniform upright or portrait format, a little over 2ft high, but they share a quietly celebratory exuberance.

The catalogue contains an essay by Martin Maloney, artist and writer, and a star of the Royal Academy's recent Sensation exhibition. This is interesting because the socalled Pop artists of Caulfield's generation (which includes Hockney and Allen Jones) are very obviously the artistic godparents of the Sensation artists. You would expect Maloney to make reference to this, however fleetingly, but he does not. In a new book published by the Saatchi Gallery called The New Neurotic Realism, confidently naming the latest and hipest art trend, the author identifies Caulfield's work as a seminal influence on at least two young artists - Dan Hayes and Daniel Coombs. Maloney himself is one of the painters included in the book; all the more reason to expect him to make this connection. Wasn't this why he was chosen to write the essay?

Caulfield paints with great economy. Closely-controlled areas and angles depict signs of the familiar: a lantern, curtains, salt and pepper pots, chopsticks which cast shadows like a cartoon grasshopper's antennae. …

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