Art: Private view; Patrick Caulfield Hayward Gallery, London SE1

James Hall
Saturday 30 January 1999 00:02 GMT
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Louise Thomas

Louise Thomas

Editor

"Social Realism without emotion" is how Patrick Caulfield describes the squeaky clean, vacuum-packed interiors that he has been painting since attending the Royal College in the early Sixties. There he got to know David Hockney and Ron Kitaj, and became associated with the Pop Art movement. But the Hayward Gallery retrospective will show what a lonely and unique furrow he has ploughed throughout his career.

People rarely feature in Caulfield's interiors; but psycho-dramas can be intuited through his elemental choreography of objects. There's a Teflon toughness to every surface, regardless of whether he's painting a tabletop or a bunch of grapes. Different forms abut each other like tectonic plates - Fruit Display (1996) sets up visual collisions that are redolent of Caravaggio.

These paintings are far from being emotionally dead. What they try to capture, in their sterile opulence, is that awful feeling of being famished at a feast.

Patrick Caulfield, Hayward Gallery, London SE1 (0171-960 4242) Thur to 11 Apr

James Hall

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