Peter Lowe is one of Britain's most important constructionist artists and he was a key member of the influential Systems Group until the group disbanded in the mid-1970s. Our exhibition constitutes Peter Lowes first major solo show in 11 years, and provides the first real opportunity to appraise his work since the ground-breaking exhibition 'A Rational Aesthetic' at Southampton City Art Gallery in 2008. We are delighted that the curator of that show, Dr Alan Fowler, has agreed to contribute an essay to our exhibition catalogue.
Lowe was born in Hackney, London in 1938. At the age of 16 he entered Goldsmith's collage in London and studied under Kenneth and Mary Martin. Lowe rose to prominence in the early 1960s after his first commercial exhibition at the Drian Gallery in London. He went on to exhibit widely in major commercial and public exhibitions and his work can be found in some of the most important collections of British art, notably Tate Britain and the Arts Council. Despite his revered status amongst collectors, curators and his peers, Lowe belongs to a generation of artists memorably referred to by Alistair Grieve as 'the neglected avant-garde'.
Despite the use of mathematics and geometry, Lowe rejects the notion of his work being cold and detached. In fact, he feels that the use of simple guiding principles creates an 'art for all' which is the very antithesis of the rather exclusive concept of individual genius as proposed by the Abstract Expressionists. Lowe's art is a rejection of grand and overblown statements, and a return to simplicity and purity. He maintains that an understanding of the systems employed in constructing his work is not necessary to the enjoyment of the piece, although he writes and talks very eloquently on the subject. He is also at pains to stress that without the decisions made by the artist as to the form and the system, the object would not exist as a work of art. Mathematics and geometry are merely tools with which to construct an artwork, employed in the same way a portraitist might refer to a sitter to compose an image.
Jamie Anderson, director of modern British and contemporary art at Waterhouse & Dodd explains: "We are keen to show every facet of Peter's practice, from the early Perspex constructions to the complex recent paintings and drawings. We find it remarkable that an artist who often works within relatively strict parameters can produce such a large body of diverse work. Peter is undoubtedly an influential and important artist; we are looking forward to exhibiting his work and contributing to the growing critical and commercial renaissance of the British constructionist artists."
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