Matthew Allen is a romantic, and though colour and its emotional manipulations have only recently re-entered his vocabulary, the dominant material that he works with, graphite on linen, is ripe for atmosphere, for welcome uncertainty. As a material it needs to be coaxed and finessed into life, very much by hand – and eye.
For all their apparent formality Allen’s works are the product of touch and fine judgement. Matthew’s best works remind me of the way that American painter Winston Roeth describes working with colour. You must “keep the pigments moving, caressing them until they lift (off)”. Though the graphite appears to be implacable, under Allen’s guidance it begins to kindle, offering up traces of light and reflection.
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