Vision Of Luminosity: Print Goes Pop At Hatton Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne

It is easy to get carried away. Nothing wrong with that in my book; I am all for it. But Print Goes Pop at Hatton Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne is bubblegum fabulousness in all its glory. Noticing the state of affairs in various areas of our daily lives, you may enter grey but leave sporting technicoloured, heart-shaped shades. Breathing in the picturesque Newcastle University, alive with actual humans weaving their way around campus, we are back, and this exhibition is the perfect fit.

Our city has a prosperous history with the Pop Art movement of the 1950s and 60s and, extending the gallery’s 2017 Pioneers of Pop show, the linchpin of PGP is the practice of screenprinting. A charm of the method is the now hallmarked ability to incorporate photographic images. Stencils on stretched canvas with dense ink driven through the gaps was a readily available art form that the people got on board with, impressive, intelligible.

One single promo shot from the film Niagra - projected by New York darling and culture cultivating Andy Warhol - joins the image of Marilyn Monroe's Seven Year Itch billowing white dress as engrained familiar visons of the actress. As part of his Marilyn series, pause in the centre of the Hatton's room, surrounded by the same squared picture of mind-blowing colour, that daring hot pink turning all heads.

Warhol's fascination with glamour reflects on the surface level, but he portrays her as a product, a note regarding fame and its trappings; this opposes his Black Bean can work, inviting the viewer to contemplate the everyday-essential as art.

“The more you look at the same exact thing, the more the meaning goes away, and the better and emptier you feel." Andy Warhol.

As Pop Art resonated and grew in stature, Leith's Eduardo Paolozzi imagined that his collages and scrapbook findings, steeped with imagery of advertisements and science fiction, ought to be memorialised with print. His Bunk! series released, and in Sack-o-Sauce, primary colours make a bed for cutouts from glossy magazines of Mickey Mouse, a jar of Weiners and a military duck. Perceptions of fine art were widening, minds broadened.

The mysteriously excellent Guerrilla Girls deliver their messages against discrimination in art and lack of female representation. Not shying away from femininity but documenting conventional ideals, a polite and dignified note named Dearest Art Collector speaks of a lack of women on a backdrop of pink with a single, sad-faced flower.

Six past Hatton exhibition posters displayed would not be out of place in our modern world. Progressively designed, they could be advertising cutting-edge galleries today. Slick lines and minimal colour adds to their cool poise. British Pop Art figurehead Richard Hamilton - a major player in the movement and a former lecturer at what is now known as Newcastle Uni's Fine Art Department - keeps things uncomplicated with his Joe Tilson promotional piece.

Hamilton's My Marilyn, Brushstrokes from Liechtenstein, Indiana's Love and four rooms full of riches constitute a who's who of Pop Art and a campaign that squashed elitism and snobbery in the art world. Being that bit different to the norm, that little bit more daring in fashion, in music and film tastes and pursuing underground adventures broke free. Print Goes Pop is so New York. It is so Newcastle upon Tyne.

Runs until January 29th, 2022

Article by Beverley Knight