In Coventry recently for a murder trial (whether as participant or spectator I don’t know — it could just as easily be one as the other), Dalrymple stumbled upon an exhibit of the works of contemporary painter George Shaw, a native of the town, and he writes about the experience in this new essay for the New Criterion (h/t: Colin).
Because Dalrymple thinks mid-Century British architects ruined Coventry, he was surprised to have found beauty and meaning in Shaw’s realistic paintings of the town:
The exhibition was among the most powerful by any living artist that I have ever seen……the light and the composition more than compensate for the inspissated hideousness of what is shown, and beauty emerges. Metal panels or blanked-out windows, disfigured (if you can disfigure what is already hellish) by graffiti or daubs of paint that look like dripping blood, become objects of contemplation and—yes—pleasure. He paints leafless trees in the midst of suburban lifelessness against skies that make you think of Atkinson Grimshaw. The poignancy is not unbearable, exactly, but it stops the heart.
The experience also reaffirmed one of Dalrymple’s already strongly-held beliefs, one that could in fact serve as a personal motto: “Everywhere is interesting”.
The Back of the Social Club by George Shaw