Key Artwork: “KAMIKAZE” – Peter Blake – 1965

Peter Blake is a well renound artist who has exhibited alongside David Hockney and RB Keytie. Some of his most famous work included Kamikaze and other wrestling imagery and Sargent Peppers Lonely Hearts Album Club Album Cover 1967,   Blake starred in the ‘Pop goes the easel’ – the first pop art video shown by the BBC.

Peter Blake Kamikaze

Two very prominent themes within Blake’s work are that of Collage and Wrestling.  Collage began with Picasso and George Brack in Fine Art. Blake interest in collage aided him in the homages he has produced to Kurt Schwitters and Joseph Cornell, taking their influence and making his own take on them. He claimed collage was a “collection of unrelated things” and that anything could be collage. Blake trained as a graphic designer so you see lettering in a lot of his artworks for this reason.

Peter Blake is known for creating wrestling stars, he does sometimes paint actual existing wrestlers like Zebra Kid and Kendo Nagasaki, but the majority of them are made up imagery with made up names, stories and formulated lives. He captures a made up past within the work. Examples of his made up wrestler paintings include: Baron Adolf Kaiser, ord Irish X, The Da Vinci brothers which have a reference to Art History and Doktor K Torture. He also developed women wrestlers like Foxy Yoko Koko and Babe Rainbow.

Below is a link to the video of Peter Blake painting wrestler Kendo Nagasaki. It is highly entertaining but at some points almost uncomfortable to watch. It’s a strange concept a hard wrestling time wearing his gear to pose for a painting. Black often puts items on top of the stretchers of his work that reference the piece, this is a highly interesting thing to do. Wrestling has a rich history in Art, some examples of other famous wrestling pieces include: Francis Bacon’s two figures 1953, George Belows – Strag at Sharkeys 1909 and Pablo Picassos lino cut -Bullfight.


Kamikazi has his name written in large theatrical lettering and wears a mask of the rising sun to hide his identity. Blake often uses the combination of printing, painting and sculpture to tell a story within his art. You can see that in ‘Kamikazi’, Blake has collaged on some photos of Kamikaze pilots to show the meaning behind the name and created a kamikaze plane sculpture to encompass the whole thing. Also, on top of the stretcher there is another bit of sculpture where the mask of the rising sun has been recreated . Blake’s wrestling characters are highly interesting and you can see that he experienced a lot of joy creating them.


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