This is the summer of hope over austerity. This is also the summer of colour.
Walking into the cool aesthetically tasteful gallery which seamlessly blends fine art and fine craft, I am dazzled by a show of lucent colour in a white room under a blue sky.
Stylistically experimental and pulsating with life, Ben Allen’s new abstract paintings, at first sight, seem to be born from sixties America – Painters like Frank Stella and Kenneth Noland. The more I look, and paintings need time to reveal themselves, I see Allen is appropriating the language of Modernism for a new audience. All this is good as a young artist needs afflatus. (a rush of unexpected breath; Cicero) For example, in ‘Transcending light ’ there is a nod to the paintings of Bridget Riley, although, unlike Riley he isn’t subverting order, he is simply engineering the graphic possibilities of colour and its effect on our emotions.
Allen is labeled a contemporary ‘Pop’ artist. He started out as a graffiti artist influenced by Andy Warhol and street culture. This show has the tang of ‘now’ – Ben Allen knows his place. And yes, his paintings are in the Pop genre because they chime of consumer consumption, but equally they show colour in its most transcendental form – ringing with movement and light.
We see the spray painted body colour on expensive cars, and hipster surfboards, stencilled and glossy – freedom to ride on road and wave – easy riding – paintings of simulated joy.