The Art of the neutral

As someone who loves art, photography, sculpture, ceramics and virtually all other forms of original expression I am pleased, but at the same time always disappointed, when big companies (like John Lewis, Laura Ashley) try and mass produce art and sell it as a commodity. It just makes me feel strange. Where has the joy in finding, collecting and treasuring – even creating – gone?

Anyway, as interior designers we get asked to recommend artists, art, sculptors all the time and, recently, I was helping a client find a picture or a painting for her newly refurbished front room. She wanted black and white photography but for ages we had no luck. Then I came across Ben Lowe doing all sorts of interesting abstracts (and not quite abstracts) for Loaf (that online provider of slouchy sofas and pale coloured things). In themselves the paintings are quite attractive. I liked Helter Skelter for its, well, Helter skelteriness. The client liked and is not only buying (from Ben’s own website) for her new sitting room but also for her bedroom -great!

But then part of me thought, hang on, this art is largely grey. It’s neutral. Of course people are going to buy it because it bridges that uncomfortable gap between needing to fill a space on a wall but actually not wanting to venture too far from the Farrow and Ball neutrals. I am being harsh and the work does have an ethereal feel to it and one, I have to say, that I probably wouldn’t tire of. But neither would it stir me – there’s no controversy here, no statement, no real nasties. Which takes me back to art being personal. About it reflecting taste, preference and experience and why mass produced stuff invariably doesn’t do it for me.

I actually quite liked the description of his work on the Ben Lowe website and I would probably gain more if I took the time to understand his work better. But don’t take my word for it – take a look for yourself – after all, you might like it!




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