Messages Sublime (with the French pronunciation) is a 5 painting series where Allan fully immerses us into private moments of self-reflection and discovery that his subjects are experiencing. In contemplating the idea of incorporating subliminal messages in a more tangible fashion, Allan used lyrics that he felt best complemented the tone of his paintings best.
Typically subliminal messages are solely insinuated through an image, normally holding negative connotations due to their ability to influence our thoughts without us being fully aware, creating a feeling of invasion. In this context the focus is more on the prominence of the words. The lyrics are brought forward from a ‘sub’, or more beneath position, to that of sublime, which can be defined as elevated.
The chosen phrases also add a layer of understanding and insight into the painting’s psyche. There is a tangible vulnerability, begging the question of whether the messages are coming from the subjects, or some exterior, perhaps sublime, influence that is coaxing us to confront our own inner struggles.
Allan is a master of employing acrylic to canvas, but as any accomplished artist knows, to stay challenged and keep improving it is imperative to experiment with different mediums and techniques to encourage new forms of expression. Classical Abstracts, a series of 30 abstract works, were made in early 2013 and are each based on a specific classical music composition. Usually a work accompaniment to promote concentration and provide ambiance, these classical pieces began to have an effect on colour choices and abstract structures that Allan couldn’t ignore. Bach’s “Air on a G String” was the catalyst for the series and with the aid of gifted large format heavy paper, as well as the motivation to embrace a more spontaneous approach to creating art, acrylic and mixed media are applied with energetic brush strokes in an a vivid array of colours. Tempo changes, swells in dynamics and audible bow changes determine the palette and overall landscape. The intended effect is to have the viewer feel the intense passion that is being translated in the art.
Unabashed about appreciating the inherent sensuality that relaxed nakedness presents in the Fusion series, Allan uses the state of mind one feels from the weightless and freeing sensation the protective embrace of water provides to up the level of eroticism and sensuality. The blend of textures, from the smooth, high-realist figures done in oils to the expressive acrylic swirls and tissue paper collage, stimulates the desire to touch and discover all curves and crevices. The multi-coloured swirls not only frame the figures and contour their movement, but also reference the series Classical Abstracts, which is where Allan first began experimenting with more impetuous brush strokes.
The hilly, forested and lake-rich landscapes near Bancroft, Ontario, saturated Allan’s sensual faculties and imprinted on him a growing artistic sensibility. Nature became an everlasting muse, and now that he owns the property where he grew up he is able to perpetuate this inspiration, as well as finding solace in the quiet. When viewing his pieces we are offered a piece of that as well; as we move about our busy lives we often forget the beauty and peace that lie on the outskirts of our urban jungle.
Figurative and Portrait Work
Figures, both nude and clothed, have always held a fascination for Allan. As a staple in his artistic career from the beginning, he is constantly challenged by how intricate the human figure is. The essence of a subject can change dramatically based on the type of scenario they’re placed in. Nature plays a major role in Allan’s works, and when a nude figure is incorporated we see a discernible fragility and vulnerability.
However, Allan particularly thrives on portraits. Whether it’s a commission or from his imagination, by focusing on the part of the body that delivers the most emotion he takes on a multitude of challenges. Not only does he chip away at solving the likeness of his subjects, but also their essence. History, hardship, naivety and gaiety can all be conveyed within one look, and it’s become Allan’s specialty to capture just that.