“That neither the human figure nor the work of the ‘Old Masters’ have ceased to be relevant is clear in the dramatic and enigmatic work of Michael Allen Lowe. Lowe’s use of his sources is not a borrowing, but a complete reinterpretation, and the results are arresting paintings that speak of past, present, and future” Findlay Galleries
Michael Allen Lowe holds a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree from the Kansas City Art Institute. He has illustrated several books and has had his photography and writings published locally and abroad. Michael’s paintings are currently in collections in Asia, Washington state and California, and he has recently begun showing his paintings on the East Coast of the United States. He has recently relocated to Los Angeles, and is anxious to see what influence living in Los Angeles will have on his work. Previously he was an instructor of Master Figure Drawing at IS 183, Art School in the Berkshires.
Michael Allen Lowe was born November 6th, 1979 in Hennepin County, Minnesota. Lowe, along with his father William, mother Kathleen, and older brother, Bryan, relocated every few years due to his father’s career in executive sales. Without the security of a hometown and few playmates, Lowe began to lose himself in a world of his own imagination. Free-hand drawing came very naturally to him, and he excelled in many creative media.
From a very young age, Lowe experimented with every conceivable medium and craft the arts could provide. At the age of nine, he was casting in bronze and welding nearly life size figurative steel sculptures. His interests, then, included mechanical puppetry, figurative ceramic and metal work, and developing his craft in drawing. By the age of eleven, Lowe had traveled across North America with his family, seen both coasts, and studied in a variety of private art schools and independent art studios. He was placed in advanced classes, often training along side classmates twice his age.
Lowe began to study painting more seriously when he attended high school in a suburb of Chicago. During this time, he began to receive commissions and was honored with several grants, including one from the state of Illinois. Before leaving Illinois, Lowe was an artist in residence at the School of the Art Institute of Chicago, where he continued to study painting.
After secondary school, Lowe received scholarships to attend the Kansas City Art Institute. There, while in the foundations program freshman year, Lowe studied with, and was inspired by department head Carl Kurtz. The Kansas City Art Institute, known for its eclectic foundations program, allowed Lowe to experiment with a verity of media including: woodworking, sculpture, stone-carving, bookmaking, photography, glass-casting, and printmaking. After completing the foundations curriculum, Lowe returned to painting and focused his efforts over the following three years on developing his craft.
Though the painting department had shifted heavily in favor of abstraction in the aftershocks of post-post-modernism, Lowe was intent on painting in a classical figurative style. The days of Thomas Hart Benton chairing the department had long past. Still Lowe was thrilled to study with renowned figurative painter, Leah Joo, and found himself deeply fortunate to study with painters Ron Slowinski, and Lester Goldman. At his graduation ceremony, where he received a Bachelor of Fine Arts degree with an emphasis in fine art painting, Lowe was chosen to give the commencement speech.
After graduation, Lowe continued to reside in the downtown Kansas City arts district. Though he was painting and showing his work locally in Kansas City’s blossoming art scene, he quickly realized that his work was being collected in Arizona, Seattle, Los Angeles, and New England, as well as in the Mid-West.
Amidst his mild success, Lowe traveled to Europe to experience first hand the great works of art that had inspired him throughout his life. Upon his return, Lowe retreated to his studio, humbled by his experiences in Europe. He was torn between the polished aesthetic of classical painting and sculpture, and a need to convey his hand as an artist in a modern, expressive, application, and construction. His struggle prevented Lowe from completing any new work, and lasted for two years. In a search of inspiration, Lowe moved to the Berkshires in western Massachusetts in the summer of 2005, where he lived and painted until the end of 2008 when he moved to California.
As a figurative painter, Lowe utilizes the form of the human body as a vehicle in transmitting a personal dialogue with the viewer. His current work reflects a response to classical systems using contemporary methodology. In his paintings, modern materials, classical imagery, and contemporary application, reminiscent of action painting (Pollock, De Kooning), collide on a visceral battlefield of canvas. However, his work demonstrates the freedom of figurative abstraction and expressive material application. At the same time, Lowe’s paintings are beheld to both the craft and intent of classical Master Painting, Sculpture, and Illustration (Bronzino, Van Dyck, Fuseli). During Lowe’s creative process, every aspect of his image-surface is carefully considered. Each mark or scrape, drawn through the surface, is as equally important to his finished work as is the nature of paint to the pictorial image. He often includes and edits pieces of master paintings and sculpture to provide context for his imagery and to supplement or reinforce a work’s content. In this way, the viewer may utilize a variety of resources in accessing the implied narrative of his paintings. His imagery, and often entire themes, are edited or completely painted out during the narrative construction. These revisions are often caused by Lowe’s varying states of emotion during the creation process. Lowe’s paintings, manipulated in this way, become layered (figuratively and literally), appearing as relief carvings or unfinished and unresolved master works. Indeed, his paintings seek to have their own dialogue with the viewer and are left open to interpretation. His intention is to provide the viewer a glimpse of what he believes painting really is, and where it can go.