Political trajectories in the painting of P. Wyndham Lewis
This thesis presents an analysis of the political dimension to the paintings of Percy Wyndham Lewis (1882-1957). Through an exegesis of the discreet and latent "voices" in Lewis's paintings the ideological parameters of his thought world are disclosed. These imperatives are examined for their display of political predispositions, for values and attitudes, which reveal a loading towards specific socio-cultural standards. In so far as these standards can be identified with historically relevant political programmes they become manifestos for political actions. Or, at the very least, they can be seen to exist as critical and prescriptive social insights. Importantly, the focus of this examination and interpretation remains the visual image and its related texts. A key aspect of both the methodology and argument within this thesis, insists that the visual image is the bearer of meaning in both its subject matter and technique. Values are communicated not only in reference to the thing displayed, but, in the manner of the display. Hence, an analysis of the intellectual and formal strategies employed by Lewis in his painting becomes a central concern of the thesis. Finally, the thesis rounds on the actual nature of Lewis's politics as revealed in his approach to art. While it is accepted that the mediation from the political to the painted throws up many and substantial barriers, the thesis insists that a political reading of Lewis's creative work is not only appropriate but necessary. In offering just such a reading the author hopes to transcend the boundaries between the disciplines of Art History and Sociology.