Father of pop art Eduardo Paolozzi may be best known to Londoners for his trippy mosaic murals, which offer distraction at Tottenham Court Road station. But his creative canon also includes whimsical busts, giant tapestries, cocktail dresses and the album cover of Sir Paul McCartney’s Red Rose Speedway.
Replete with a recreation of Paolozzi’s Illumination and the Eye as its label, you can sip game-changingly good Paolozzi Lager at the Whitechapel Gallery, where an exhibition on the artist pulsates until 14 May. John Dunsmore, the mind behind the full-bodied, unpasteurised 5.2% Helles brew served at the gallery’s After Hours salon, believes ‘beer is just another logical form of the expression of art’.
Inspired by the illustrated lager, which, like Paolozzi, was raised in Edinburgh, I exercised my senses, devising more matches harmonising the art on show and alcohol.
Beginning with the small, glowering, bronze bull from 1946 — the first thing guests see when entering the exhibition — a dark, nightly Porter (£2.39, honestbrew.co.uk) strains with coiled energy (5.4%) beyond the industrial graphics, with scorched prune and, evoking soil under the beast’s feet, earthen flavours.
Reaching across a wall, The Whitworth Tapestry (1967) is a positive, painstaking weave suggesting a psychedelic take on the old BBC test card, with appearances by Disney protagonists. Meantime IPA (£5.35, waitrose.com), an audaciously hopped, historic-rather-than-hip brew, feels almost vinous (7.4%): an ebullient beer for cheery embroidery.
Finally, in bandaged, painted bust Head (after Josephine Baker), 1996, I saw a figure tortured by a volume 11 hangover, accentuated by the fast jazz played at the exhibition’s finale. Kernel Table Beer (£2.99, beerhawk.co.uk) from Bermondsey brewer and cheese fanatic, Evin O’Riordain is, however, lullingly light (2.8%) yet complete and satisfyingly flavoured, easing the recovering drinker to a happy place and metaphorically removing Paolozzi’s bandages…