Phillip Allen at the Kerlin Gallery – review

Kerlin Gallery
Until 25th March

Phillip Allen returns to the Kerlin gallery with his newest exhibition Deepdrippings. Eleven abstract paintings line the walls. The large open space of the Kerlin allows the viewer to comprehend the paintings all at once. This significantly enhances the viewing experience, as it is important to see these works as a collection. The neutral backgrounds of greys, browns and cool blues are punctuated with intense yellow, reds and pinks. A whimsical experimentation with texture and colour is the focus of this exhibition, complemented by Allen’s tongue-and-cheek titles – “Deepdrippings (we can’t make coffee like the continentals)” is a personal favourite.

The paintings are teeming with colour and rhythmic texture, giving the impression of an optical illusion you could almost sink into. The impasto paint is applied not only in worm-shaped lines throughout the central space of the painting but also gathered around the edges, forming a kind of frame. This framing draws the viewer in. The rhythmic, patterned textures evoke natural surfaces such as coral, or bacteria seen through a microscope. The multitude of colours applied with small, controlled brush strokes on top of flatter curving shapes creates no recognisable forms; any associations are suggested by the paintings’ texture alone.

Although seemingly random and carefree, Allen’s process is rigorous. He will plan his paintings in detail with felt tip before committing them to paint. A running theme throughout his work has been an interest in the sculptural effect of paint. In this exhibition, the chromatic use of colour against a backdrop of flatter, more subdued hues exaggerates the three-dimensional effect of the material. Allen’s work could also be understood as a visualisation of sound. This is alluded to in two of the pieces’ titles: “Chin Music (soft octopus version)” and “Deepdrippings (Earfood version)”.

After a long-standing relationship with the Kerlin, it seems fitting that this exhibition which marks a further development in Allen’s ongoing fascination with paint as a sculptural device is shown here in Dublin.


Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *