The Water In The Well

9 Mar-15 Apr 2023
PV 9 Mar 2023, 6-8pm


LONDON, 9 March, 2023 - JGM Gallery presents The Water In The Well, an exhibition of works on canvas and paper by Tim Allen.

These are archetypal works by Allen in that they are vast and mesmeric, straddling the border between abstraction and representation. What signifies a novel approach by Allen is the added emphasis on transience and impermanence. This is conveyed, primarily, with the use of a grainer’s brush. The parallel markings achieved with this tool have previously been used by Allen to render a variety of atmospheric effects: Bacon-esque curtains, rippling air, reflective surfaces between the viewer and a horizon. In The Water In The Well, Allen uses them to establish rounded apertures. There are many associations that one might draw between these and a clock, or the orbit of a globe, but it is the brushstrokes themselves that most conveys this feeling of transience and the passage of time. Unlike the reduced landscape beneath, these openings are painted in a way that exposes their technical architecture. As Allen’s brush runs out of paint, he continues to drag it, conspicuously indicating where each mark begins and ends. That is, a chronology of movement and action is established.

There is also a melodic quality to these works, as the parallel lines seem to mimic blank staves. In this context, the rest of the composition - the flecks of paint, layers upon layers of colour - can be thought of as the painting’s musical notes. 

Allen says of the work that, “... the brushstrokes that I use generate something that’s akin to the way that we experience the real world... because they allow for a complex layering which is very similar to how we sense depth or sense space. There’s a sense of tracking that maybe allows the viewer to go on a journey with the work which is similar to the way that we experience the world.” 

If the viewer is made aware of time and impermanence by these spirals, then rectangles - usually established with a horizontal line cutting through the canvas - suggests something more spatial. In fact, were it not for these horizontal lines, a landscape might not be suggested at all. There is a solidity to these areas of colour, which clarifies what might otherwise be a somewhat confused arrangement. With these two shapes - rectangles and circles - Allen generates an aesthetic and conceptual tension, masterfully demonstrating his compositional instincts. 

Jennifer Guerrini Maraldi, the Director of JGM Gallery, states that “Tim’s work has always had a profound effect on me. He has a consummate understanding of his craft and how it can push and prod the nervous system of his audience.”

There is, in these works, the aesthetic quality of a black hole, a sublime expression of the tension between time and space. When and where we are, however, is never clear. Though many of the paintings have suggestive titles, their features are always muted or abstracted such that the viewer is left in a constant state of oblivion. 


The Water In The Well press release