Matthew Allen’s work sits out from the wall, appearing contained – held…until the light shifts. Immediately they respond by asserting their mercurial character and their volume. The regular cadence of shadows describe their thickness, the shimmer of the surface insinuates something of their depth. As the face of each panel illuminates, blinking and reflecting, they also embrace any ambient colour. And for a painter like Allen, these apparently restrained forms appear to eschew some of “paints” unpredictable behaviour and materiality but on closer inspection we can sense a very intimate finessing of the surface and a rhythmic cajoling of material that accumulates into a rich chronicle of his touch
The face of these works behave a little like mill ponds, shimmery and clear one minute and dark and foreboding the next. The feeling one has close to these polished graphite surfaces shifts between a steely, obdurant constitution and fragile meniscus. This shift is not only driven by the play of light across their faces but also depends on our position. Reflections are fugitive and unstable despite the solidity of the form and it is this impermanence and fluidity that he is pursuing. Allenpaintingsparticipate in an existential enterprise, parrying reflection and light, ghost forms and shadows inviting us in and denying us in equal measure.