John Atkinson Grimshaw: Liverpool

1 Response to “John Atkinson Grimshaw: Liverpool”

  1. 1 md moorman January 21, 2011 at 8:58 pm

    I haven’t had the time to clarify my thoughts on this painting entirely, and I am sure that it could be interpreted from multiple standpoints. I can’t offer a fully articulated view of the matter in this comment so I will just throw out a few thoughts. It seems to me that the painting is replete with Neo-Platonic themes. One might be able to draw analogies to the Cave of Plato (the fires are in the shop windows). Is the moon providing light? If so, that is reflected light and needs to be thought about along these lines. It is interesting that one of his other works is a Pre-Raphaelite style depiction of “The Lady of Shallot” a poem from Tennyson based on Arthurian legend where the woman is condemned to look at the world only in the reflection of a mirror—she dies when she breaks free to gaze on Lancelot. So, Neo-Platonic themes here. I suspect much could be made of the muddy road, the ships, the “frozen instant,” photographic feel of the human figures.
    If one could say of Monet that he has reduced the world to a subjective, psychological instant—there is nothing more; here, we can say that Grimshaw views his subject matter sub specie aeternis. The moment is an expression of the infinite, and the infinite expresses itself in the finite (Hegel’s “good infinite” of center and circle not the “bad infinite” where finite and infinite remain alongside one another).
    Hazy , preliminary, and incomplete thoughts, but I thank you for bringing this work to my attention.

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All original writing and photography © Jan Olof Bengtsson

"A Self-realized being cannot help benefiting the world. His very existence is the highest good."
Ramana Maharshi