Looking Back Into The Future - Eduardo Paolozzi's Exhibition at Whitechapel Gallery

Eduardo Paolozzi was undoubtedly one of the most influential British artists of his time. An impressive retrospective at Whitechapel Gallery shows four decades of his creative work that still remains true to todays audience. Paolozzi’s diverse oeuvre that consists of paintings,collages,sculptures, textile pieces remains influential even today and Whitechapel Gallery shows it all.

Born in 1924 to a family of Italian immigrants Paolozzi begun his artistic education in 1944 in Edinbrugh. After graduation in 1947 from Slade School of Art and Central School of Art and Design he moved to Paris. His stay there was very important for his own artistic development. Being inspired by French cubism and surrealism he begun to define his own characteristic style and established The Independent Group – first collective of artists who defined themselves as British Pop-Art Shortly afterwards he gained an international acclaim. Paolozzi was also a design tutor at many universities in Europe and in the USA. He died in 2005 in London.

The retrospective in Whitechapel Gallery is very well organised and shows his artistic transition and veriety of inspiration behind his work in a chronological order. The visitor travels through Paolozzis artistic world that consists of vibrant yet unsettling (especially in his early years) sculptures, collages, prints and garments based around the theme of human versus machines, technology and mass culture. The exhibition space is very well organized. Each area of the display is carefully described providing detailed information about both works and Paolozzis life. It was also a good choice to mark every room of the display with a different wall colour. This helps to get a sense of a new period in Paolozzis oeuvre – for example the influences of the 60s and his change in depicting industrial elements, from rough to polished surfaces. These features exhibited on a black background shine even better in intense lights and the shift is emphasized. Details like music alongside his latest, more playful works is one of those elements that make the pieces speak even louder to the audience and share the energy of each composition.

The final room of the display can be seen as Paolozzis comment on the culture of the world – “The Exhibition of Humankind” and various artefacts from different origins gathered together to create a new whole. This closes the display in a rather unexpected way and leaves the visitor with a sense of not seeing all. This is a result of not marking the exit in any way, so the visitor instead of entering another room finds himself outside of the display with a feeling of leaving the exhibition too early.

Whole display is very well thought and enables visitors to understand all aspects of Paolozzi’s work. It presents his pieces in a clean and chronological way. The viewer travels with Paolozzi’s inspirations and ideas through his life. Eduardo Paolozzi was a great artist and the exhibition presents that. Moreover, his work is still understandable for the viewers, which makes his vision of the future from the past contemporary.

Pictures from the exhibition are uploaded on workflow research page.

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