Three hundred and eighteen

A Parade for Saul Steinberg

2007–2012 by Peter Blake
Waddington Custot Galleries until 15 December 2012

A Parade for Saul Steinberg is just one of the worlds Blake creates for us with his numerous figures of nostalgia. Saul’s procession faces a castle with cartoon characters gathering in its turrets, a wooden house fronted by Snow White and many dwarfs, whilst dark wooden men, their heads traditional bowling balls, march on in the background. For this is the surreal world of Peter Blake where figures and emblems of the past and present come together to create collages of imagination. Whether these take the shape of the photographic montages we know so well or these three-dimensional scenes, the world of play is rife throughout and it is this that separates Blake’s work from the rest. There is creative rhyme and reason behind each of his carefully places figurines or pasted butterflies; it may not be logical, but the meaning has come from a wonderfully surreal consideration. The origin of this can be found in what might be considered the gems of this exhibition, Blake’s early watercolours, dating back to the 1940s. A carnival atmosphere is seeped into a softly coloured painting of circus animals, while fairies play further along the wall; youth is evident in the childish delight of these characters and it is this delight that Blake has kept throughout his work since.

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