2 - 4pm, Saturday 12th Oct


Matthew Allen - Matthew Allen

At first glance Matthew Allen’s work has a crispness and clarity, a latent sense of formality about it that one could be forgiven for assuming that technology played a role in its manifestation…and of course it did. Wood, linen, graphite, paint, brush, burnishing tools – all determinedly analogue technologies in a pervasively digital age.

Allen’s measured configurations, much like the sequential forms of Judd, act as containers for an intuitively driven inquiry into the luminescence of material – one where patient attention arouses a sensuality in that matter that in turn engenders a heightened sensitivity in the viewer. The apparently repeated forms avoid any systemic predictability because rather than repeat, each element acts an echo of the other. Like a Chinese whisper whose reverberation delivers a new iteration, they are altered by transference and time.

Allen’s polished graphite works don’t wish to be viewed at a distance. They invite us, up close and personal as if we are approaching a mysterious darkened mirror, tarnished by time and resisting reflection. For some time this notion has been reinforced by the intimacy and scale of the objects he made – many works being the size of a small head and shoulders portrait, certainly no more. In this new group of works Allen has not only increased the scale dramatically but he has turned the axis of the work to insinuate a horizon line.

These “landscape” works of Allen’s might be the flattened DNA of the Dutch landscape infiltrating his consciousness, but equally there is a meditative ambience akin to Hiroshi Sugimoto’s celebrated Seascapes that has always been present in Allen’s work. Allowing himself permission to paint the horizon line, it is almost as if he was granting himself permission to look away from the close scrutiny of intimate portraiture…to calm his eyes and mind on the distant horizon…to find oneself through the release of a distant gaze rather than the demands of close quarter inspection.


Paddington Cnr of Hampden St., Cecil Ln, Paddington NSW 2021