Exploring the world opened up by a work of art
This month’s showcase:
Oil on canvas, 60″ x 60″
This painting takes my breath away . . . literally and figuratively. “Bradford” (a borough in West Yorkshire, England) by Lawrence Gipe is of a real scene from the Great Fog of 1952, where a winter cold snap combined with an anticyclone and windless conditions, trapped pollution, largely coal induced from chimney stacks, gripping the area for a week.
Not so pretty.
But the painting . . . absolutely gorgeous. The fog, turned a sickly shade of yellowish brown as it mixed with thousands of tons of soot, under the imaginative hand of Gipe, takes on a nostalgic beauty rarely captured in a painting, as if cloaked in a shroud of mystical romance. The light, all but extinguished from below, is rather viewed from above as crisp sunlight on a frigid morning, glistening on a bed of wispy cotton punctured by a perfectly symmetrical grid of the peaks of chimney stacks. Completely mesmerizing. This painting is utterly horrifying and magically enchanting all at the same time.
And that’s why I love it. Gipe’s paintings are anything but one note. They honor the breadth and complexity of an experience, and they honor my capacity and interest as a viewer to fathom a wider range of emotions.
This painting made me think about global warming, automatons, living in forced community, loneliness in numbers, isolation, cold, the luxury of breathing, power, strength in numbers, feeling totally alive, the jolt you get from completely foreign experiences, the closeness of death and beauty.
Go ahead. Give it a try. See where your mind takes you.
…And don’t forget to breathe.