A Viewer’s view

illustrated: Strawberry painting 19 1972. Collection: Mr & Mrs Lennox

‘A Viewer’s View’ – David Lennox writing about the ‘Strawberry series’ of paintings in 1972

I look at these paintings, I enjoy them, as a layman. David Platts’ fellow painters will see clearly the resourcefulness of technique which people like me see more faintly ‘from the outside’, as it were. But the imagination and vitality abounding in the series come out to meet each one of us with warmth and directness.

There are two important aspects here, the physical use of materials, and the inner meaning of the image. The skill and variety in handling the medium represent to the artist a statement about painting in the 1970s, and the series must provide for the expert a fascinating study at this level alone. On the inner level, the choice and treatment of the image give a deeper satisfaction the more one knows these paintings.

The strawberry is first of all Nature’s work as compared with the work of men’s hands, the fruit that is all heart as compared with any mechanical or industrial object bereft of heart-qualities. Further it bears its seeds on the outside, showing openly the continuing life of its kind, in contrast with the planned obsolescence of commercial products. It is an image not unlike the evergreen holly which symbolises at Christmas the perpetual freshness of eternal life. The different renderings of this one image suggest the countless ways in which this inner meaning may appear to us.

Each spectator brings his own perception and, knowing a number of these paintings very well, I feel it this way. The strawberry image is that which each of us has in common with all others. If you see life in religious terms, it would be what is known as ‘that of God in every man’; if you see life in secular terms, it would be our common humanity. In a word, the strawberry is our identity. The different treatments of the one image then represent those things which distinguish us fro one another, our individuality. Beyond that, the pictures I am drawn to are the people I like most immediately; the pictures that reveal themselves more slowly are the people I need more time to understand properly. Thus the whole series has a universality and compassion transcending its interest as plastic design.

Hermann Hesse makes one of his characters say. ‘The pattern of any good image is no real, living form or shape, although such shapes may have prompted the maker to it. Their true first pattern is not in flesh and blood, but in the mind. Such images have their home in the craftsman’s soul’.

David Lennox

(Mr & Mrs Lennox, at the time this piece was written owned two of David’s paintings including Strawberry 2 illustrated here)

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