West Bay - New Paintings
28 November - 22 December 2000
LONDON Front Room
West Bay, near Bridport in Dorset has long been the resort of artists. Paul Nash was a frequent visitor when living locally and in 1934, the surrealist, Eileen Agar rented a cottage there for the summer. It is a small English port of singular visual contrasts, which embeds itself mysteriously in the mind. Certainly this has been its effect on Alex Lowery, who has been painting West Bay for the last eight years.
"I have written elsewhere of my being 'attracted by the elusive nature of the place - the diminutive cliffs abutting E. S. Prior's outsize apartment block that perches on the harbour edge, the white mast, the pink house built on the shingle' - there seemed to be an equation on offer and one that called for some kind of acknowledgement. This acknowledgement has taken the form of an attempt to evolve a style which suppresses detail in favour of that which seems (to me) essential... I hope that by focusing-in on whatever the mystery of the place is, it becomes not less elusive, but paradoxically more so."
Flattened spaces, simplified forms, heightened colours, a compelling formal precision and painterly subtleties, these are the characteristics which attach themselves to Alex Lowery's work and to the work of the American realists, Alex Katz and Edward Hopper, whose influence Lowery acknowledges. However, as the critic, David Cohen, commented there is also a surprising analogy to be made between Lowery and the Italian Futurist artist, De Chirico. "West Bay has . become something quite marvellous in Lowery's hands, like De Chirico's Ferrara, an actual place, but every bit as unreal as an invented city ., the town has been transformed quite simply, by being rendered as form."