Ed Ruscha, an artist who combines 'Pop Art', 'Surrealism', 'Fine Art' and 'Typography' has an exhibition on in the Hayward Gallery, London at the moment and I went to see what the exhibition was all about the other day. After reading praise from newspaper reviews I was excited to venture into the world of a man who combines everything I love about art, simplicity and profanity.
I'm going to review only the first room of the exhibiton because that's where I felt his work was at his strongest.
The exhibition started with his earliest works, a painting called '1938' (1958) and the typographic self-portrait 'E.Ruscha' (1959). Both were very much influenced by 'Abstarct Expessionsim' and both captured the essence of how he would evolve as an artist. I then ventured to the next part of the exhibition, entitled 'Visual Noise', where he combined promt and punch words to create strong and striking paintings such as Noise (1963) where he added loud and striking colours and treating words as abstract objects.
I then went on to see probably his most well know and somewhat iconic paintings. 'Playing with Fire' is a collecton of Ruscha setting light to many builings, diners and petrol stations.Ruscha commented laconically; 'I like The idea that this misfortune is happening in such a calm atmoshere'. True, the paintngs were in isolated locations and all combined somewhat dark and brooding images with a contrast of vivid colours. A very escapism and somewhat ironic part of his career.
The last set of paintings I want to mention are his 'Stains' paintings, where he started to experiment with household products such as food and drink. 'It's only vanishing cream' (1973) and 'Sand in the vaseline' (1974) were works involving phrases, rather than words.
Overall, a truly mesmerizing exhibtion filled with passion, exhitement and talent. A true pioneer of contemporary design.