The most striking feature of Jeff Lowe’s work is his interest in African carvings, which he esteems as some of the most remarkable sculptures ever produced. He is strongly influenced by it’s formal language: the subtle shifting angles, the inclination of figure pieces, the precise definition of levels and the contrast between the lavish decoration and solidity of such art works.
There is nothing cold and impersonal or industrial about Jeff Lowe’s steel sculptures. Although they are not precisely figurative, the scale and arrangement of forms frequently contribute a strongly human element to these works. Jeff Lowe considers sculpture to be an art of constant discovery and exploration. Not content to work within a rigid style, he has experimented with a variety of materials: stone wood, fibreglass, and clay. He is most familiar with the creative potential of steel, to the extent that he can work with it intuitively. Nonetheless he demands that his sculptures should always be able to surprise him. Never knowing in advance quite how they will turn out, he continually appraises and adjusts them developing the compositions by cutting away areas of steel, even slicing through or across whole sculptures. Lengths of pre-formed steel, originally destined for industrial use, and further curved, twisted and cut in the workshop, are frequently used.
“I work quickly and directly on the sculptures, working on many at once. I work intuitively with the elements but with an underlying feeling that I want them to have a particular form and clarity. However as soon as I put two things together something real happens that I could not of foreseen – and this starts the sculpture off. From then on it is self-generative. I want the sculpture to inform me and surprise me, not to be logical, I don’t want to be able to predict what will happen.” Jeff Lowe 1980.
For a recent series of sculptures, cut out paper shapes were reproduced in sheet steel, giving the artist a ready stock of jagged shapes, which could be combined and assembled rapidly. The relationship between flat planed and internal spaces is investigated in the resulting series of compositions which have a great sense of immediacy and drama. Jeff Lowe feels that his technique almost painterly and relates it to Matisse’s famous paper cutouts.
The artist’s strong feeling for colour is most evident in his sketches of landscapes and of sculptural ideas. In the steel sculptures he colour gives emphasis to forms and levels; they are by no means brightly coloured but have a subtle painted finish. The surfaces are textured by sand blasting.