A new exhibition at The National Library of Wales is delving into the literary world of internationally acclaimed graphic artist, printmaker and publisher Paul Peter Piech.
The Literary World of Paul Peter Piech, which opens at The Library on 1 February 2020, is a celebration of his contribution to visual art in Wales, as well as the writers he portrayed.
Piech was born to Ukrainian parents in Brooklyn, New York in 1920 but spent most of his professional life in Britain. A fascinating figure and an inventive creator, Piech is mostly remembered for his hard hitting, bold and message led linocut and wood-cut prints. Through this medium, he covered a whole range of 20th century social and political issues.
However, a portion of Piech’s work is concerned with the literary world.
During the Second World War Piech was posted to Britain where he stayed and married Irene Tompkins, spending the last decade of his life in Porthcawl. Here he continued to produce his iconic posters, some of which were heavily influenced by Welsh culture and the Welsh language. During that time he embraced many aspects of Welsh life, from notions of identity to traditions such as the Eisteddfod, and extended his artistic repertoire by using the Welsh language in many of his works.
Works on display will include linocut posters and prints of Welsh literary figures such as D. J. Williams and Harry Webb, as well as those of writers from further afield, like Stevie Smith and Ezra Pound. Piech’s artworks will be exhibited alongside the original linocut printing blocks, as well as treasures from the Library’s vast collection, such as Dylan Thomas’ manuscripts and letters from T. S. Eliot to David Jones.
Pedr ap Llwyd, Chief Executive and Librarian at the National Library of Wales said:
“The Literary World of Paul Peter Piech will be a truly unique opportunity for visitors to explore how Wales and the literary world had a great impact on this visionary artist. The exhibition is an excellent example of how our variety of collections, from striking artworks to iconic archival treasures, can collectively give a great insight into aspects of 20th century Welsh culture. In addition, I do hope that visitors to the exhibition will be encouraged to use our collections as a source for personal inspiration, much like Piech was motivated by our culture and literature.”
Mari Elin Jones, Curator of The Literary World of Paul Peter Piech said:
“It has been a privilege to curate this exhibition of the work of this internationally important artist, and a great opportunity to showcase the portion of his collection kept at The National Library. I hope that this exhibition will raise Piech's profile here in Wales, as well as inspire visitors to explore the Library’s collections further and to try their hand at printing like Piech.”
Elen Haf Jones
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