|Lazaria Oil on Canvas 63" x 72" 2008
|A Collection Of New Works By Michael Allen Lowe
N E W Y O R K C I T Y
Having been heavily influenced by the subjects of eighteenth and early nineteenth century
artists Fuseli, Blake, and Goya, for whom the fragile mortality of humanity is a reoccurring
theme, it is a subject in which I too desired to explore. One image in particular, Henry Fuseli’
s Vision of the Lazar House (c.1790-4) [now lost], I found to be a dramatic and powerful
representation of this human drama. The work illustrates a scene from Milton’s Paradise
Lost in which the Archangel Michael is revealing to Adam a horrid future of humanity.
Lazar Houses were early hospitals named after the Biblical Lazarus and administrated by the
Catholic Church. These houses of plague and various illnesses were often isolated buildings
used to control the spread of communicable diseases. The term later resurfaced as lazaret or
lazaretto, a building, island, or anchored ship, which served as a quarantine station for
maritime travelers. Aesthetically, I find the conceptual idea of the lazaretto fascinating. As I
imagined a cross-section of gender, age, social status, ethnicity, religion, and politics, being
jumbled together, as they would not have been otherwise. I develop my paintings in a simialr
way, referencing imagery from a variety of master works; painting, literature, sculpture,
illustrations, and gather them for careful inspection and close observation as if they were
various party's in a lazaret forced to occupy the same space.
These fragments of Master works are juxtaposed with illustrative narrative which reference
history, philosophy, mythology, allegory, and sexuality. I often exaggerate or reinterpret a
referenced works' original narrative by utilizing contemporary painting techniques such as
expressive color fields, figurative and free-formed abstraction, action painting, and the
freedom to reveal the process of a particular style.
For this particular exhibition I was greatly inspired by Rubens, van Dyke, and Velázquez, and
I have learned a great deal from them through referencing fragments of their works. I also
feel in a way I am reviving or bringing new life to this historic imagery, and hopefully
something more is revealed in this aesthetical lazaret of human drama, an exhibition of new
work entitled: Lazaria.
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