Paul Bommer’s Wunderkabinett
Roll up, roll up! Only days to go before the opening of Paul Bommer’s Wunderkabinett in Spitalfields next weekend! Paul is one of those rare artists whose work proposes an entire vision of the world, humanity and existence. And you can enter his charismatic universe simply by stepping through the green door of 15 Wilkes St, where a choice selection of his confections will be displayed for your pleasure on Saturday and Sunday.
Like Pieter Breughel, George Cruickshank and Ronald Searle, Paul’s generous work is firmly rooted in the European grotesque, populated with distinctive specimens of humanity – conjured into being through his unique quality of line, waggish, calligraphic and lyrical by turns. Fascinated by culture and lore, Paul celebrates the strange stories that interweave to create social identity and the fabric of history, from Joseph Grimaldi’s birthday to St David’s Day, from Alfred burning the cakes to L’Apres Midi d’un Faune, and from the origin of Mardi Gras to Robert Burns.
After ten years, forging a reputation through editorial illustrations published in many of Britain’s major print publications, Paul is now branching out into more personal work – paintings and prints – and, incredibly for one with such a significant body of work, this is his first solo exhibition. It is an event. Paul is calling it his “Wunderkabinett” since it comprises a retrospective of favourite works from the last ten years plus a collection of new screenprints celebrating his love of history, storytelling, folklore and folk art, broadsheets and street literature. But “You can also describe it as a ragbag, if you want,” he suggested to me with self-deprecatory largesse.
There is a sophisticated humour and sly ingenuity at work in all Paul’s contrivances, composed in a rich visual language this is his alone – an elegant aesthetic and a droll sensibility manifest in work of exuberant appeal. With his fresh face, heavy eyelids and intense blue eyes, Paul is regularly to be seen around Spitalfields in his trademark tweeds and flat cap, always with a new story to tell and a new wonder to impart. There is a brightness and delight in everything he does, irresistibly eye-catching, yet always repaying close attention with subtle details and visual jokes. “I struggle with the modern world and create a bubble around myself,” he confessed to me with a weary smile, but I think we may indulge this tendency for the sake of these sublime images – colourful postcards from the world of Paul Bommer.
Artwork copyright © Paul Bommer
During the month of December, we will be running Paul Bommer’s Advent Calendar every day on Spitalfields Life.
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