Pass the Peas
18 May – 20 June 2023
Josh Lilley is honoured to present Pass the Peas, an exhibition of never-before-seen works by iconic post-war British artist Patrick Caulfield (1936-2005).
Working closely with the Caulfield family, the exhibition comprises works on paper, paintings and sketchbooks from his archive, together with a selection of significant paintings loaned from important collections within the UK. The presentation considers the shaping of an artist whose work so often played with reality and illusion, and for whom restraint, conceptually and formally, was fundamental to practice. As an artist with a renowned ability to reconcile society and solitude, this intimate reappraisal reflects on how Caulfield’s philosophy and approach guided his creative methodology and output; providing a deeper understanding of Caulfield’s subconscious, his energy, and his sense of humour as a painter of modernity.
The exhibition’s title, Pass the Peas, comes from a 1968 Western film The Stalking Moon where Gregory Peck’s character considers how the mundane can simultaneously be extraordinary, and how seemingly insignificant details function to punctuate our existence. In Caulfield’s work, we see tools or vessels to elicit a certain feeling - a vase, a wine glass, a room as a site of comfort or of containment. Whilst posing as simple, functional devices, they are much more than the sum of their parts - details which open up worlds of aspiration and inspiration. It is these details, motifs and symbols which are highlighted in the remarkable archival works.
Well known for his shy personality and reclusivity, these unseen works tune into the more private profile of an artist whose life seemed in sharp contrast with his confident painterly style and his iconicism as a virtuoso of contemporary still life. From this body of work, we are able to trace Caulfield’s process and understand these acts and the tenets which drove and defined his work. Perhaps Caulfield’s most powerful legacy today, 18 years since his death, is what it takes to be an artist, how you get there, what you make, and what you share with others.