Stylistically there’s no other era quite like the Sixties. Gazing into the expanse of works on show in Kaleidoscope is similar to venturing into a bold new world of colour, symmetry, shape and scale. Each piece jumps straight out of the pages of a popular culture book, released from its confines and unleashing its marvel on an unsuspecting audience.
Abstraction is broken down into many forms of painting, sculpture, installation, assemblage and textiles. The importance of mixed media materials is paramount to the artists’ visions of creating strong, distinguishable and energetic forms. Utilising fibreglass, acrylic, wood, mirrored glass, fabric and paint were all qualities inherent to devising the most exciting artistic direction. And scale. The large scale nature of each artwork is visible in either size or vitality, or both. Quite like an Alice in Wonderland rabbit hole of scale, colour and form.
Beginning at the end of the exhibition and my favourite piece ‘Zikkurat 7’ (1967) by Joe Tilson which is a pyramid of rainbow colour and structure. Tilson was one of the leading figures of British pop art and greatly inspired by myths of ancient civilisations which he then realised into themes of popular culture and mass media. His contemporary, Phillip King who created ‘Point X’ (1965) an acid yellow lined sculpture sitting comfortably on the surface of the floor was also inspired by Greek architecture. Its spiky features are geometrically symmetrical combining a intra-fusion of circles, triangles and squares.
Another memorable piece is the central sculpture ‘Quinquereme’ (1966) by Tim Scott (first main image), an assemblage of large coloured acrylic sheets shaped like sails of a boat to form a complexly visual, yet simple formation of pieces. Aligned opposite to ‘Painting 96’ (1960) by Bernard Cohen, an experimental painting of big brush smooth application of colours over a large surface. The colours blend together slightly at the edges bringing your attention to the exposed under-layers which starts to break down its initial formal composition. Its cheeky undertones goes well with this formulation.
No exhibition would be complete without an Anthony Caro sculpture, a prominent sculptor in the 1960’s, his piece ‘Slow Movement’ (1965) is constructed by bolting and welding 3 pieces of industrial steel together to create a world of space within its lines.
“I would like to continue being radical. As you get older, some of the world catches up and it’s passed you. In the ’60s you were on the crest of a wave because you were part of the wave. I don’t want be a stick in the mud and do the same thing as I did last year, I want to do something different and see what happens.” Anthony Caro
‘Heap 4’ (1967) is an alternatively radical textile piece created by Barry Flanagan representingmalleable materials that could be shaped into sculptures. Aptly named ‘Heap’ works they consisted of hessian bags of sand piled on top of each other. Gravity would then determine its final shape.
The scale and ideas behind each painting or sculpture in this exhibition is groundbreaking and there’s no wonder this touring exhibition (now at its final gallery destination) has been so popular. I am constantly amazed by the gravitas of these artworks that say so much about the times they were created in. Overall the variety of materials used conveys fluidity and movement in their presence even if they’re facilitated by sequence and symmetry. The Sixties were truly a bold and liberating decade of wonder and experimentation.
On until 3rd June
Walker Art Gallery
Willian Brown Street
Liverpool, L3 8EL