I sit here
on the perfect end
of a star,
pour itself toward
The light pours
a small hole
in the sky.
I'm not very happy,
but I can see
how things are
(Richard Brautigan, "Star Hole")
Blum & Poe is pleased to present Vigil, an exhibition of new paintings by Los Angeles-based artist Theodora Allen. This marks Allen's second exhibition with the gallery and presents two bodies of work: The Cosmic Garden and The Candle.
In The Cosmic Garden, diaphanous visual patterns are built from images of the natural world. Delirium inducing plants, celestial bodies, and a single stringless guitar emerge from graphic archways. These rigid geometric structures, occupied by gently rising organic forms, are realized in a tonal scheme that features a stark contrast of light and dark, softened with jewel-toned blues, greens, and purples that impart an ethereal glow.
With The Candle series, the namesake object is the starting point for a suite of intimately scaled compositions. Following a singular idea through various permutations, the illumination is found among interlocking circles and rectangles. Long a symbol of light in darkness, with decidedly mystical overtones, the candle of Allen's configurations carries an arcane resonance. A collection of contemporary runes, they are pale totems and flickering emblems.
Through Allen's hands the images become ghostly and elusive, the result of working her surfaces over and over, embedding thin layers of paint into the weave of the linen until the fabric itself shows the weather of its making and unmaking. The light from within each painting emanates through sheer veils of color, revealed in areas where pigment has been all or partially removed. Allen's motifs engage with a language of utopian and metaphysical ideals that have historical incidence -- her foliage gateways nod to the tapestries and stained glass windows of William Morris, her glowing focal points summon the hallucinatory luminescence of Agnes Pelton's depictions of peaking light. These subjects are enduring and timeless in nature. Here, notions of temporality and eternity are soundlessly forming and disappearing. It's the obscuring of one celestial body by another.
Theodora Allen (b. 1985, Los Angeles, CA) holds an MFA in painting from the University of California, Los Angeles, a BFA in painting from Art Center College of Design, Pasadena, CA, and has completed a residency at Skowhegan School of Painting and Sculpture, Skowhegan, ME. Her work has been exhibited domestically and abroad, including at the Museum of Contemporary Art, Tucson, AZ (2014).
Press release courtesy Blum & Poe.