Pop Art is famously associated with North American artists’ works such as Andy Warhol’s ‘Campbell’s Soup Cans’ or Roy Lichtenstein’s ‘Wham’. Instead, this exhibition displayed paintings, photography, video and sculpture from South American, Eastern European and Far Eastern artists, who also used the Pop Art style to address serious issues such as war, censorship and female liberation.
As we walked through each room, political world events and social injustices of the 1960s/70s period were extremely evident. Paintings featured many intense, violent scenes from the Vietnam War juxtaposed with images of consumer goods and advertising. A very moving and memorable piece was Gérard Fromanger’s ‘Album le Rouge’, which cleverly bleeds the red parts of international flags into each other, signifying the bloodshed from the violent 1968 protests. Marcello Nitsche’s ‘Kill Fly’ was also particularly eye-catching showing a giant fly-swatter hung from the ceiling – a reference to the Brazilian military dictatorship.
The work of Jana Želibská, a progressive, conceptual artist during the 1960s Czechoslovakian art scene, explores the intimate relationships between men and women, presenting the female body from a feminist point of view. Her giant lightbox portrays white outlines of hippy-style, naked, female dancers with their genital areas replaced with mirrors, preventing a voyeuristic representation. Apparently she originally wanted to show her work on the street, but it was thought to be too explicit, given the political situation at that time.
The final room really makes you realise the impact of consumerism throughout popular culture. Thomas Bayrle’s ‘The Laughing Cow’ wallpaper covers all four walls and we tested each other on how many of the identity styles we recognized from Boris Bućan’s ‘Art Logos’.
Overall, definitely a worthwhile, cultural evening, and what was so interesting was how the subject matter was so dark and sombre, and yet the colours and materials applied by the artists were so bright and bold. The exhibition is on until 24th January 2016 - go check it out!