OUR KING WOMAN; REBECCA ALLAN
There is no logical reason to make art other than that it is absolutely necessary to the nourishment of the human soul. I paint in order to wrangle the difficult paradoxes of life or to mark its beauty.
In recent years I have travelled to New Mexico to pursue new sources for paintings. Initially, I became interested in the cultural histories of the artists for whom New Mexico has been an enduring source of inspiration. Observing and drawing the geological and atmospheric conditions along US Highway 84, between Abiquiu and Ghost Ranch, directly influenced my painting, Grenadine Red Canyon (Abiquiu). The painting includes peel collage, a technique that I invented to repurpose paint that has dried on my palette. These thin skins of paint (like floats of seaweed) are intended to bring your eye back to the surface of the painting, just as you might spot a bird or a cloud as your eye moves from the far distance to things that are closer to you.
My studio is located at the confluence of the Hudson and Harlem Rivers in New York City. In my work as a painter, I strive to capture what I call the cosmological landscape—the dialectic between the particular and the remote. These qualities of distance and intimacy are present in Pieter Breughel's Harvesters in the Snow and in many of John Marin's and Marsden Hartley's paintings. I love the atmosphere and luminosity of 17th-century Dutch landscape painting—a subject that the late Metropolitan Museum curator Walter Liedtke taught me to appreciate deeply—but I have a direct affinity for Joan Mitchell's gesture, Charles Burchfield pantheism, and Hartley muscular, red-saturated limbs—excuse me, land forms. I know that sentence went on forever, but how else can we think of these layers and points of contact between the landscape and the human heart?
Indeed, a painting is a layered object. Beneath the "resolved" upper surface is a burial ground of half-efforts and failures that have been scraped away, reworked, slashed and jettisoned. Slashing, tearing, and flooding are forces that shape the land, and alter us. We are aware of these in relation to the rending of the ozone layer, or the filling of streams with mining debris. My work as a painter is meant to save my own self, and then to inspire others, even as it is influenced by the impact of human industry and 'progress' that as an activist I am called upon to critique. My paintings are points of contact for people who value the enduring beauty of the landscape and who want to live in a world that contains and sustains the inconceivable complexity and beauty of the Earth.