Stewart Nicol Soutar has been known for years for his neo-surrealist modern art and this latest piece called The Harbour at Dystopia adds to the long-standing work and gives a new raw edge to his creative archive, a depth and darkness that will be both thought-provoking and a cultural landmark with its social commentary of what is a fictional space but could easily be interpreted as any industrialised town across the globe that has lost its voice.
Dystopia in dictionary terms is an imagined state of environmental degradation, which this image is an appropriate and candid representation of the dictionary definition.
Broken and decayed, the image itself shows a dark space symbolic perhaps of the isolation of people with only the sliver of light between to give hope.
The depth of the painting is layered and complex with the dark edges merging to create two distinct townships separated by a bridge. almost cross-sectional, resemblances of a canal with its broken down bridge between. Like many industrial spaces of the twentieth century, it has been abandoned and broken down, telling a story of broken down life.
In terms of colour, the painting is created using slashing shades of grey and black with flashes of white breaking in like a light in the darkness, giving it that broken edge that creates the whole. Central to all of this is the single strip of sky that breaks through like the sky between buildings, representative of a reality we all face as we look out of our windows: who can’t glimpse the sky between buildings?
In the harbour itself, we see the edges of what could be people in shades of blue, reaching for the sky even at the depths of the water striving and reaching to the sky that is still visible even as they sink below the surface.
Moreover, it represents the chaos that is always a heartbeat away and that the dystopia of the mind that can either destroy you like the city or make you strive.
To learn more about Stewart Nicol Soutar and his work see his website: