Mind’s Eye: The animism and imagination of Phillip Allen’s painterly abstractions
Issue 123 May 2009
What if his house was on fire? He’d save his drawings. What if someone admired his art and invited him to make a book? Phillip Allen – Drawings, a festival of felt-tip sketches, was published by Other Criteria in 2007. Drawing, the activity at the core of the London-based painter’s work, equals potential. Open that book somewhere near the middle and locate a monstrous, fluted architectural form, a giant pipe organ spliced with a windowless church: it will reappear, a little more streamlined and pinkish, a little more like a three-dimensional spectrogram but still obscurely grand and fearful, a year later in the oil-on-board Volume Champion (2008). On other pages a dark, rearing cyclonic form appears, composed of interlocking club-like shapes resembling Philip Guston boots or kicked-over P’s. (Since 2001’s 33 Allen has sporadically made paintings featuring his own current age; you wouldn’t put forename-initialising past him.) We’ll see that motif again, more complexly essayed and with airborne golden echoes of the central form flanking it, in the painting Postopia (2008).
— Martin Herbert