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Phillip Allen, Bernier/Eliades, Athens

May 26, 2010 by Ellie

Phillip Allen opens '...the urgent hang around' on 3rd June until 10th July at Bernier/Eliades Gallery, Athens.

PRESS RELEASE: The Bernier/ Eliades Gallery is pleased to present a solo exhibition of new paintings by Phillip Allen. It is the artist’s first exhibition in Greece.

Phillip Allen (b. London, 1967) has gained international acclaim for his revolutionary approach to contemporary painting since graduating from the Royal College of Art in 1992. His work reexamines, reverses and reinvigorates pictorial conventions to integrate - and transcend  - traditions of geometric abstraction and landscape painting. Each piece reveals a highly developed individual manner with a kaleidoscopic synthesis of constructed shapes, vividly coloured, in imagined patterns.

At once architectural and biomorphic, molecular and cosmic against a void of suggested infinity, each enigmatic composition is brought to life by the radial motion of a controlled explosion. The result is a new visual syntax that is equally reminiscent of funfair rides, Islamic patterning, starburst galaxies, video games and the Russian avant-garde.

Each painting is framed above and below by a rich band of cumulative impasto. The thickly applied raw oil paint, still shaped as it has come out of the tube on the wooden board, takes on a strong sculptural presence to form a portal between the surface of the painting and the spectator. The materiality of its process-based texture and physical depth emphasizes by contrast the vanishing points in the depth of field on the surface of the board. Looking through this frame into the composition gives the feeling of peering into an imagined garden of paradise as an inner state of being.

A parallel contrast arises between the dollops of inactive paint on the edges and the paint rendered deliberately in the centre by the artist’s brush – raising the fundamental question, when is a painting more than the sum of its parts? The contemplation of each work as a whole warns against any linear reading and the pitfalls of trusting language to decode image – our invented distinctions and relations between content and form are to be read in terms not of matter but of metamorphosis. Ever keen to break his own spells with an explosion of colour, Allen is out to reach the sublime and then to reveal it as a trick of the hand.

The Profit of WOW (Silves Version), 2009, Oil on board, 41 x 51 cmphoto

Beyond Green, 2010, Oil on board, 41 x 51 cmBeyond Green, 2010, Oil on board, 41 x 51 cm

Fatherland Gem (Tyrant of Focus Version), 2010, Oil on board, 41 x 51 cmFatherland Gem, 2010, Oil on board, 41 x 51 cm

Motherland Gem, (Tyrant of Focus Version), 2010, Oil on board, 51 x 61 cmMotherland Gem, (Tyrant of Focus Version), 2010, Oil on board, 51 x 61 cm