In a solo exhibition of the celebrated Patrick Caulfield (b. 1936 – d. 2005), Waddington Custot look deeper at the artist’s practice across a variety of media, from oil painting to prints and his lesser known and rarely exhibited drawings, with particular attention to Caulfield’s preoccupation with light and shade across various times of day.
Early in his career as a student at the Royal College of Art in the 1960s, Caulfield developed a strong, easily identifiable style of painting of flat-coloured planes and hard-edged black outlines. Working with ordinary domestic forms such as lampshades, vases, window panes and wine glasses, he pared down his subjects to slick and streamlined black outlines and areas of saturated colour. Lines are crisp, surfaces are impenetrably, impossibly smooth, and colours elegantly balanced.
In keeping with the gallery’s dynamic approach to exhibition-making, the Waddington Custot space on Cork Street will be split into several distinct sections, each painted different colours taken from Caulfield’s work. These spaces, each reflecting an aspect of the artist’s practice, become an extension of the artworks themselves.
Many of Caulfield’s compositions play with the representation of varied and conflicting sources of light: beams, shafts, pools and floods, and the humble glow of the domestic lamp. He created compelling compositions that play with the viewer’s perception and understood implicitly the ways in which light could fall on a subject. Everyday pursuits of the morning, noon and night are represented through various subjects such as a daily newspaper, cold cuts enjoyed at lunchtime, or the domestic lamps switched on and window blinds drawn as dusk falls in the evening.
Speaking to art historian Marco Livingstone in the early 1980s, Patrick Caulfield explained: ‘Once I got on to shadows, I really went to town; they became compositional elements, in fact more than the objects that the shadows came from…I’m not actually painting from observation of light, I’m making up an idea of how light could appear to be.’