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Michael Allen: A Part of the Silence

  • April 9, 2021 - May 8, 2021
Michael Allen, Falling Leaves, 2019, Oil on linen, 54 ½ x 48 ½ inches
Michael Allen, Falling Leaves, 2019, Oil on linen, 54 ½ x 48 ½ inches

         “Observation and experience have always been the cornerstone of my work. I paint the places that I see regularly and the fleeting moments that occur in those spaces. I am drawn to moments that pique my curiosity, as well as relationships of color and light. 
         Place and location are important because it is where these moments unfold. When I say place I don’t necessarily mean a specific landmark, but an expanse of southeastern Pennsylvania. From just north of Harrisburg, down the Susquehanna River to the Maryland border, east into Delaware, north past Philadelphia into the Reading area, and west back to Harrisburg. This is my place. It is where I was born, educated, and continue to live today, painting. As a landmass it is known as the Piedmont.  In some respects my specific locations are all interconnected, by a landmass, a railroad, a highway, etc. in the little block of the world that is my place. I have a tendency to return to the same locations because I am visually enticed by them and because familiarity allows me to catalog nuances of light and air in my mind’s eye. 
         The work has focused heavily on memory in the past few years. But memory is malleable, it is not a fixed image. It is shaped by what the mind fills in, a changing light or color, a different day, etc.  It is further altered by the act of painting.  The paintings are not mere copies of an image, rather a reconciliation of a collection of experiences formed into one new moment. These perceived moments, manifested through paint, provide insight into my own life experience and my connection to the bigger world. My work has become more about seeing my place and reacting with paint rather than making paintings of my place. 
         What has become interesting to me, and only evident in the past few months, is the common thread that is weaving its way through this body of work. For these paintings, that thread is transition. Night moving toward day, day toward night, one season becoming the next, a shadow moving to light, etc. Each painting has an element of transition, some more obvious than others. These fleeting moments are stuck between observation and seeing, recognition and reconciliation.  Again, a transition. In the moment of moving from observation to seeing there is silence. A momentary silent stillness.” – Michael Allen, 2021