Sunday, October 10, 2010

Sir Peter Blake, The Butterflyman, alights in Venice

The Butterflyman in Venice
(Venice, Italy) Sir Peter Blake is called the Founding Father of Pop Art. Born on June 25, 1932, he is now seventy-eight-years old and in better form than ever. He has created a fanciful character called "The Butterflyman," a stately gentleman who travels from town to town with a magic butterfly wand and an open book, releasing butterflies that float gently in the air, spreading happiness and charm. Last night, October 9, 2010, the Butterflyman alighted at the Galleria Michela Rizzo here in Venice to present "Venice Suite," a show curated by Valerio Dehò in collaboration with the Paul Stolper Gallery in London -- where, by the way, you can see Peter Blake chum Damien Hirst's butterflies in "The Souls." Above you see the Butterflyman and his winged companions in front of the Palazzo Ducale.

I think the Butterflyman lives in the forest, and, indeed, there was a inkjet on canvas showing him in that environment. Then, after he gets fully charged with enchantment, off he trots to places like Paris and Venice and Holland, sprinkling gaiety into the atmosphere.

Now, that is just my opinion since I did not think to ask Sir Peter where the Butterflyman lives. I did, however, ask Sir Peter if he deliberately planned to open the exhibit on October 9th to coincide with what would have been John Lennon's seventieth birthday, and he said, no, and that I was the first one to remind him of the significance of the date. In any event, there was a picture of The Beatles on display, and, of course, Sir Peter Blake will be tied to them forever as the artist who created the cover of Sergeant Pepper's Lonely Hearts Club Band.

In addition to the Butterflyman, the Venice Suite exhibition consists of a series of 20 screenprints set in Venice that are also available as a box of  postcards. My favorite, that lovely girl flying over Rialto on a ball, was not there; perhaps she is sold out. Peter Blake said that he created the exhibition specifically to fit into Michela Rizzo's gallery. He knew the dimensions of the space and planned accordingly. He also remarked that his life had speeded up considerably. In fact, he has a major exhibition at The Museum of Everything in London opening next week on Wednesday, October 13th.

Some of the screenprints were rather dark with airplanes about to crash over Rialto and wild beasts. Moira Jeffries wrote an interesting piece for The Scotsman last year entitled Peter Blake interview: Cut out and keep that sheds some light:

In 2007, he went back there for only the second time in his life, to support his much younger friend Tracey Emin, who was showing at the Venice Biennale. "As it happens it was a total disaster," says Blake. "We arrived at the airport and they had lost our luggage. After three hours of tracing it, we went into Venice with an Italian critic who was meeting us. We went to get on a water taxi and it moved… and I fell about four feet on to my knee. I was in agony the whole time, taking painkillers."

In the prints the city's tourist spots have been transformed by all kinds of surreal mischief and disaster. There are ice and penguins, boat races and parades. "I think what happened is that they started to become a bit surrealist and I started to push it. What wouldn't you see if you visited Venice? You would never see the Aurora Borealis for example and it seemed unlikely that Venice would freeze over."

In contrast, a new series of works set in Paris are all butterflies and charm. "It may well refer to the fact that I was in pain all the time in Venice, there are aeroplanes about to crash and wild animals. They are nightmares whereas the Paris ones are dreams."

Click HERE to read the entire article. 

There was also a wonderful diamond dust Marilyn inkjet print, among other delights. After the opening, Stephen and Joanita Green hosted a magical, mystical Paint it Blake! party at their home in Palazzo Mocenigo with colorful balloons bouncing around the dance floor, colorful nibbles to eat -- including genuine cotton candy -- and colorful vinyl music from 1965 to 1967 with the artist Luca Cabot doing a great job as the dee-jay for the evening; he even had an original Sergeant Pepper album spinning on the turntable. 

As I watched what is perhaps the most famous album cover in history spin round and round, the Beatles in their satin day-glo military outfits surrounded by iconic characters and flowers, it made me long for the days when an album was a work of art with lyrics like librettos, new technology allowing harmonies never before possible, classical mixed with pop and sitars, electric mixed with wood, brass and strings, and melodies everyone could sing; melodies that became part of the atmosphere itself, pouring out of car windows and homes and into the schools and streets. The world was filled with color, color, color everywhere, color in clothes, color in sound, colorful tastes and smells, food coming over from India and the East, a barrage of color that stimulated the eyes and nudged everyone awake. 

As John Lennon sang in Being for the Benefit of Mr. Kite!, "Having been some days in preparation a splendid time is guaranteed for all." Having Sir Peter Blake in the palace was even better than Mr. Kite himself, his fanciful energy inspiring everyone, and, indeed, a splendid time was had by all. 

Ciao from Venice,
Venetian Cat - The Venice Blog

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