Articles by Huw David Jones
Paul Peter Piech is an American printmaker known for his graphic art promoting various social and political causes, from Amnesty International to Save Small Schools. The current collection on show at the Aberystwyth Arts Centre till Jul 26 features work spanning 50 years, and includes some beautiful examples of linocut and woodcut imagery.
Born in Brooklyn of Ukrainian parents, Piech studied printmaking at Chelsea Art School in the 1940s, then worked in advertising for many years before becoming a teacher in graphic design. In 1956 he set up Taurus Press in Hertfordshire, where he worked on books and prints that explored new ways of combining text and imagery, often to reflect his deeply held views on pacifism and equality. From 1986 till his death in 1986 he lived in Porthcawl, and became passionately involved in the cultural life of Wales.
Piech’s prints are extremely emotive, populated as they are by sombre figures who gaze back at the viewer with saucer-like eyes full of pain, sorry and hope. As might be expected from someone who worked in advertising, they grab your attention immediately. Ultimately the work is pure agitprop, the product of a time when artists regularly involved themselves in campaigns against apartheid, nuclear arms or pit closures. Yet the humanitarian message remains as relevant as ever.
Aberystwyth Arts Centre, Aberystwyth, Sat 14 Jun till Sat 26 Jul 2008.