“Oh Brave New World that hath such creatures in it”
Brave New World In his usual surreal style, Stewart Nicol Soutar has come to the table with another spectacular example of why he is considered a leading light in the contemporary arts and surrealist movement both in the UK and in the USA.
Staying within his most recent color palette of cool blues and greens with touches of grey, the painting draws the eye and allows you to create a narrative around your own vision, open to personal interpretation.
Something that is obvious from a cursory glance is that this image (to my own eyes) is the Antarctic undertones, not just reminiscent in the colors but in the abstraction of a penguin (center left at the top of the painting) next to what could be interpreted as being a tanker cutting through the sea.
The grid formation, on the lower portion, is reminiscent of a port giving the overall feel of starkness the painting holds, in much the same vein as other works, a darker more political undertone about the coldness of the world and its slow move toward a stark more authoritarian state. A metaphoric depiction of a political landscape that sees people as being birdlike, delicate and huddled while the heavy military or political classes steamboat across the landscape and reshape it to suit themselves, like an architectural overlay to an existing image, the painting a series of secrets that reveal themselves slowly over time and give a chilling yet compelling edge to the work that has become a signature of the work of artist Stewart Nicol Soutar over the course of the years.
Dystopic in its outlook there is still an element of the hopeful because in-spite of the bleakness of the concept it still has (in its dystopic truth) an element of hope, the grid or architectural lines have no sense of permanence, they sit like sketches of what could be, a decision waiting to happen so to speak.
A chilly, somewhat bleak outlook on what is still and without question a beautiful painting with the potential to enhance with years and grow in its narrative to become a talking piece or generations.
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