Roy Lichtenstein Retrospective, Hayward Gallery, London

Pop Art sways to the whims of fashion. One minute it’s equipped with a Hoxton fin, the next it dresses like Chris Eubank. Judging from the hoards of people, it’s back in vogue again. Or perhaps London’s dismal weather is responsible. On Sunday, a cheeky entrepreneur stood outside the Hayward Gallery selling umbrellas for eight quid a go, his only competition the gallery itself, the same price as an umbrella.

I must say, I’ve never been in and out of an exhibition so quickly. That’s not a reflection on the number of paintings, but the nature of them. Whereas Rothko can suck you in and Warhol bashes you around the head with repetition, Lichtenstein’s pictures just left me with the impression of a two-minute pop song. Nothing wrong with it, but it’s just disposable, next-one-please, throwaway fun.

The vivid comic scenes are the images commonly associated with Lichtenstein. The exhibition provides context with the original comic books and a selection of the artist’s early scribblings. In every way the finished product is identical to the original. Like Borges’ Pierre Menard; recreating Don Quixote word for word, Lichtenstein starts from scratch and perfectly recomposes the original.

An early sixties painting, proudly announces ART. A bold taxi-yellow background highlights the letters and it positively screams at you, as if the artist is saying, ‘I call this art, therefore art is what it is, bollocks to the rest of you.’ Later in his career there’s a similar painting with those same three letters. But this time the message isn’t so clear, blurred lines cloud the image. Self-doubt seems to have crept in.

The rain had stopped by the time I left. The umbrella entrepreneur was probably in the pub with the curator of the gallery, drinking through their profits, laughing at the rain that made them money.