L.S. Lowry and Paul Gauguin: images of individualism and dark forces
Lee Jay Walker
Modern Tokyo Times
L.S. Lowry (1887-1976) became one of the greatest painters in Britain in the twentieth century because he provided images of a world that existed and his style was very individualistic. Northern English people can certainly relate to the industrial landscapes and the world he was portraying. Therefore, Lowry, just like Paul Gauguin, but for very different reasons, highlighted their deep passions despite going against the grain in many ways.
Paul Gauguin entered the art world at a late stage in his life despite having a conventional lifestyle until this moment. On the other hand, Lowry commented that “If people call me a Sunday painter I’m a Sunday painter who paints every day of the week!” This comment by Lowry highlights his roots because it shows no weakness and neither did he seek compassion instead his art would do the talking and people can either accept his uniqueness or reject it. Either way, Lowry didn’t desire compliance and instead held firm to what made him special. However, in saying this it must be stated that his art is more diverse than most people give him credit for.
Lowry and Paul Gauguin are very different characters and the same applies to their art and non-elitism and elitist way of thinking. Obviously, Lowry applies to the non-elitist world whereby his art can be felt within the environment he came from and the world that he witnessed. However, Gauguin noticed and expressed the difference between the artist and art lover and citizens who couldn’t feel the same passion.
Also, Paul Gauguin desired acceptance and to be understood for the genius that he was. Only after so much hardship related to economic factors and the death of two of his children did Paul Gauguin gradually come to reject the world around him.
Lowry was influenced by Ford Madox Brown and Rossetti and he had a deep knowledge of French Impressionism. He studied at the Manchester Academy of Fine Art and at Salford Royal Technical College. However, Lowry was not a follower of any individual and instead he focused on his own unique style which would become the backbone of his career despite producing more conventional paintings.
Gauguin commented that “I glimpse poetry” and have “a spark of high intensity.” He also stated that “without art there is no salvation” but in many ways his life became one of hardship because of art. Also, images of Tahiti continue to prevent “a complete artistic salvation” because this aspect of his life is held again Paul Gauguin.
In another article I stated that “Many art critics, like international political leaders and directors at charities who reside in complete comfort, have the snobbery to condemn Gauguin or the poor for creating their own problems. However, no individual can put themselves in the place of another and unless people understand the times of the day and link this with the death of his children and severe poverty – while the onset of time was eating away at his soul – then who can really judge?”
However, the art work of Paul Gauguin should provide “artistic salvation” because very few artists have ever left a legacy of such richness like this sublime artist. Also, the “intensity” he had can be seen throughout his art work because this individual was a genius. Therefore, only the bleakness of parts of his life meant that he eventually succumbed to “a dream world” based either “on the flesh” or “unrealism” because paradise was lost once humans walked this earth.
Lowry and Paul Gauguin both had rare individualism and strong souls which maintained them when others would have faltered. After all, irrespective of the negatives aimed at Lowry by some art critics and periods of real poverty for Paul Gauguin and the isolation he felt after two of his children died – both individuals never succumbed to self-doubt about their artistic merits.
In an earlier article I wrote about Lowry I commented that “Images by Lowry can lead to confusion for people outside of a working class environment and who don’t understand the real power and energy of industrial landscapes.”
Lowry himself commented that “One day I missed a train from Pendlebury – (a place) I had ignored for seven years – and as I left the station I saw the Acme Spinning Company’s mill … The huge black framework of rows of yellow-lit windows standing up against the sad, damp charged afternoon sky. The mill was turning out… I watched this scene – which I’d looked at many times without seeing – with rapture…”
One place where Lowry and Paul Gauguin could meet is in the area of isolation. Lowry in his art felt a deep connection with individuals who were solitary and struggled to cope with this life. Therefore, Paul Gauguin during times of poverty and despair would have been a perfect individual to draw for Lowry. Also, given the artistic nature of both then this binding factor linked with “despair” and the feeling of “abandonment” which was often felt by Paul Gauguin; meant that both individuals would have made interesting friends if they had shared the same time and environment.
Of course, this is wandering into the world of “if” and “unreality” but without imagination then where is the creativity? For Paul Gauguin “creativity” was everywhere and he could turn the “mundane” into something “dramatic.”
Paul Gauguin sometimes entered the world of despair and isolation but art which had created his poverty also pulled him out of despair. In this sense, Paul Gauguin had art throughout his veins and his world was shaped and engulfed by his intensity towards art.
Individuals split people into elite international artists, national artists, regional artists, and so forth but irrespective of this both Lowry and Paul Gauguin were individualistic and their love of art shines through.
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