Saturday, 29 June 2013

Lowry and the Painting of Modern Life

 'The painter, the true painter, will be the one who can seize from the life of the present its epic dimension and make us see and understand, in colour and contour, how great and poetic we are in our neckties and patent-leather boots.' -Chareles Baudelaire

I'd been looking forward to seeing this exhibition at the Tate Britain for a while now and wasn't disappointed when I finally saw it.  

I really love Lowry's work, the wry beauty of his depictions, his attention to detail, his use of colour, the way he captures people; the working class crowds in roves, in front of an immaculately crafted industrial dystopia.

'I've got a one-track mind' Lowry once stated 'I only deal with poverty. Always with gloom.' Interestingly enough, although, Lowry's vision was one of 'poverty and gloom,' the grimness of the daily round was offset by the energy and animation of life acted out on the pavement. 'Accidents interest me' he said. 'What fascinates me is the people they attract.... the patterns those people form, an atmosphere of tension when something's happened. Where there's a quarrel there's always a crowd...' 

Lowry's ruined landscapes were visually incredible and quite affecting. They had an apocalyptic quality about them, the natural had been overridden by the man- made, the 'dark Satanic mills' stretched as far as the eye can see. It's said ' the end of it the sense of waste and catastrophe gave way to a rueful almost admiring recognition of the ugly grandeur of the industrial scene.'

L.S. Lowry River Scene (Industrial Landscape) 1935
'It seemed a world from which vegetation had been banished; nothing existed except smoke, shale, ice, mud ashes and foul water...'
-George Orwell

Lowry's paintings depicting the social life of Labour Britain were rather animated and cartoonish and to me stood out from his other works. I really love this painting... the casualties of modern life...there's something morbidly fascinating about it...