Lowry and Major in Southport

It’s not often a plan comes together, but today was almost as perfect as you could make it.

The exhibition is in one room and the paintings are almost, but not quite alternated between Lowry and Major.

It was overwhelming to be in the room as so many Majors as I’ve only seen one in the flesh before. If I’m honest, the Lowrys paled into insignificance next to Theo’s large canvases (I’m calling him Theo now!). I spoke with an attendant who thought the same as me. You have to get up close with Lowry to see the detail, but with Theo’s work, you stand back and he comes at you, full pelt!

I could talk all day about the works, but won’t. The first large canvas is ‘Crucifixion at Wigan’. He mainly painted onto hardboard, so you get the texture underneath the oil.

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The caption with this has Theo saying “I wish to disturb and extend consciousness and this one is incredibly powerful. The background is full of the telegraph poles and the people walk about without noticing that above them is a crucifix. They are all oblivious to the suffering that is going on above them -perhaps their own worries are too great to consider the plight of the working man as a species.

Another of the large canvases is Sunset at Wigan which I felt continued the narrative with Crucifixion:

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The bright yellow sun is vibrant at its core, but becomes muddied as the light infiltrates the industrial landscape. The people seem to be gathering as if waiting for something. An art critic, Mervyn Levy said, “What is superficially ugly in the industrial scene, he has transformed into a pattern of startling and moving beauty.” I quite agree. I could have stayed all day just looking into these paintings.

I had better mention old LS, in case he feels left out. This simple painting, called ‘Discord’, went well with the exhibition.

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It shows the way in which isolation can be seen even in a cosy domestic setting. I think that is Lowry’s strength:that he reveals subtleties within a simplistic setting that can make you think further than the traditional view of his ‘matchstalk’ people.

If it is possible to be more in love with Theo after today, I think I’m there! Oh, and if you think he is all serious and melancholy, check out ‘Death and the Devil at Wigan’. Just love the train crossing the scene, oblivious to the forces of evil fighting it out.

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