Night People vs Creeping Meatballism
Mixed media on paper
29 x 20.5 cm
CHICKEN IN A BASKET. OUR SURVEY SAID. ITâ€™S NOT EASY BEING A DOLPHIN. In Steven Loweryâ€™s drawings, snippets of overheard language crash and slide together, trying to squeeze each other out of the picture. Fragments from stand up routines run up against slogans from adverts; conversations overheard in the post office queue or in the pub share space with song lyrics and mad neologisms. The effect is one of visual noise, compounded by Loweryâ€™s blazing, psychedelic palette, somewhat comparable to 1960s rock posters that aimed to find a visual correlative for the trippy tunes they sought to promote.
Lowery has discussed the influence of music in his work, from the free jazz of Ornette Coleman to the free form rants and non-sequiturs of The Fallâ€™s Mark E Smith. The atmosphere in Loweryâ€™s work, though, as in some of The Fallâ€™s records, is one of overwhelmed and exhausted despair.
ANY OLD CRAP IN ANY OLD ORDER, says one line, like the perplexed words of a critic spat back in furious sarcasm. One work, Fulcrum Grafter Masher, is dominated by a line from Tony Hancockâ€™s suicide note: THINGS JUST WENT WRONG TOO MANY TIMES. That might be a way of summarising what Lowery calls his â€śdesperate dissatisfactionâ€ť with the world of popular culture (â€śhate-fostering tabloids, listless reality TVâ€ť), but itâ€™s also a disingenuous attitude: thereâ€™s a wild creative energy driving Loweryâ€™s work that might be called, though cautiously, a celebration.