The scene is the Kensington Olympia station.
The painting captures the grubbiness of a railway station. It seems no matter how well maintained it may be, there is a tiredness and careworn appearance within any railway station or undercover railway or underground station. Sure there are degrees but it’s still they’re the colours convey that sense of dirt found in stations. There’s a layer of brown dust which accumulates and eventually covers everything.It conveys a feeling of urban gritiness worthy of the finest mystery film.
A single figure of a man, his features lost in the shadows; a clear profile of his face is all you can make out.
As you look at him further, you’ll see how his coat fragments into tiny stars before turning into the solid edge of his back and rucksack. The thing with people in paintings is they become something more than they are- this weary traveller is caught forever in suspended animation, destined to remain still for the remainder of time.
The composition of the around him divides the page into bands of textured colour, the bottom half indigo, brown and black set against the red, white and blue of the station sign. A band of focus, these reds and browns lead our eyes to the greenhouse roof of a building above. A few patches of Cerulean blue mark out a September sky. The details sparse and the composition linear, bands of colour lined up regimentally as if for inspection. There are clues to what lies outside the station, in the background. The Arch of Olympia.
Is that where he’s going? Or somewhere else? Who will he meet there? And what will they talk about?
We are left to guess.
What do you think he’s up to?
If you like this post, you may want to check out my other London Paintings.