Lowly resume

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Tim Lowly at Wood Street Gallery
review by John Brunetti
..from New Art Examiner July August 1998



Tim Lowly has established his reputation as an accomplished painter of intimate tempera works that transport one into hushed domestic dramas of unspoken devotion to deep personal beliefs. It was therefore a surprise to see the form his current work has taken in this, his first exhibition of sculpture. While the subject of his sculpture, as with many of his paintings, is his daughter, Temma Day, Lowly's approach to the three-dimensional works is bolder and simpler. He utilizes textures and scale to assert a distinctive physical and psychological presence that suggest an invigorating new direction in his artwork.
Using a variety of materials - paper, plaster, ceramic - Lowly has created a series of tactile, life-size figurative works and wall-mounted pieces that address the deceptiveness of the human body as a true indication of one's identity and the sole boundary of our world. Lowly's "TDL" series comprises five material interpretations of a little girl lying prone on the gallery floor. Turned on her side, her head tilting back her lips parted, her arms folded awkwardly across her body, the image of the young girl reflects the physical incapacitation of Lowly's own child, yet becomes a symbol for all individual's physically challenge and seemingly separated from their environment.

Lowly's choices of materials for individual figures suggest both the fragility of disintegration and the ethereal associations of spiritual ascension. Deep tan in color with a rough ceramic surface, "TDL 1" is the most fragile among the figures. It resembles petrified wood, evoking both decay and eternal preservation in the delicate lines of twisted limbs and rumpled clothing. As one bends down to view and move around the pitted, rigid surface of sculpted flesh, bone, and fabric, one realizes that there is a peace to the young girl's physical metamorphoses that transcends one's own clumsy, upright mobility.
Whereas Lowly's ability to make compelling images in his previous paintings allowed us to be momentary visitors to private worlds, his new sculpture makes us active participants in environments that remind us that restrictions of the human body do not ultimately limit the capabilities of the human spirit.

Copyright © John Brunetti 1998

John Brunetti is a Chicago based critic. Check him out on the Chicago Art Critics Assocation website.

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