From Sharne Wolff…
Matthew Allen’s abstract paintings spring from an international school of colour-field painting that reached local heights in the 1960s. According to Bernard Smith, the purest colour paintings were non-referential so that each could be “regarded as a coloured object and nothing else”. Allen’s latest exhibition Where You Go I Go Too endorses this legacy while adding a neat contemporary edge.
Allen begins his work with a flat base of colour that acts as the painting’s light source. In these ‘framed’ works, a departure from his previous practice, the base also acts as a border. A translucent glaze of oil mixed with fluid resin is applied on top. Crucially, the next part of his painting method is to allow each painting to ‘paint itself’. Over the course of a day or so, the painted glaze continues to flow down the surface of the vertical canvas with or without the artist’s presence. Allen controls the balance of colour and medium but it’s a form of liquid anarchy that dishes up the luminous results.
The show’s title delivers a good hint for viewers seeking to interact with this work. It also happens (perhaps not coincidentally) to be the title of a spacey psychedelic album by Norwegian electronica musician Hans-Peter Lindstrom. Meanwhile, the catalogue essay assures us that “Allen’s paintings offer an antidote to a detached and complex world – a place for repose”.
Until December 21
Sullivan + Strumpf Fine Art, Zetland
Pic: Matthew Allen, Emerald Cycle, 2013. Acrylic and oil on canvas, 46 x 35.7 cm (5). Courtesy the artist and Sullivan + Strumpf Fine Art.