Galleries - January 2015

JANUARY 2015 GALLERIES 45 thing, there will be no opportunity to declare the works forgeries as the artist will incorporate the creation of his works into the exhibition. Darkening the back room of the Charlotte Street gallery, Allen will work by the light of a single lamp, using sanguine, charcoal, graphite and ochre to create his final image. His earlier works, some of which will be displayed in the fully lit front room of the gallery, reflect similar interests in prehistoric painting in their palette and organic forms. However, the content of Allen’s images shows a Surrealist’s interest in archetypes and the human mind. Like Breton and his fellow surrealists, Allen attempts to draw out the human unconscious, the part of the mind that modern morality and logic repress. In Allen’s Cave , he will attempt to access central London’s collective unconscious by asking passers-by to create automatic drawings, from which he will take lines and forms, in order to create a portrait of the community and its most basic desires and emotions. From the depths of the Contemporary Cave, Hossack’s Conway Street Gallery, is only a short walk away, even in the blustery London winter. Here, Joan Dannatt’s 90th Birthday Celebration will run from 8 to 31 January, celebrating 82 years of creative output. January will see the opening of two exhibitions at each of Rebecca Hossack ’s galleries in London. In addition to differences in media and subject- matter, the artists featured in the two solo shows can also claim a 65 year age difference. Yet in the surrealist neo-cave paintings of 25-year-old Thomas Allen and the monochromatic etchings of 90-year-old Joan Dannatt, there are some common threads. Before exploring the works of the younger artist, it is worth mentioning that encounters between Surrealists and cave paintings have not always been harmonious. In 1952, André Breton, one of the leading proponents of Surrealism since its beginnings in 1924, visited the caves in Pech Merle, France. Here are Paleolithic cave paintings, which far outdate the written record, suggesting an innate human desire for creative expression, which would surely have appealed to Breton. But on this occasion, Breton, reportedly drunk, went up to one of the walls, and declaring works to be forgeries by madmen, scrubbed at a painting of a mammoth with his hand, before nearby guards could pull him away. ’Thomas Allen: Contemporary Cave Paintings’ will see surrealism and cave paintings thrown together again, though this time – probably – with less contentious results. For one On the face of it, Dannatt’s works seem utterly removed from Allen’s. Though her early work included paintings and various printmaking techniques, she took up etching as her main medium in the 1970s. Graphic and direct, these prints hint at her earlier career in advertising. Built up with greys and blacks, each scene is deeply familiar: a man on a bicycle, a cleared field, a cottage. These scenes of conventional civilisation are a far cry from Allen’s geometric dreamscapes and the sinuous forms that populate them. Yet there is something elemental in Dannatt’s work, too. Richness in the texture and line of the landscapes runs in contrast to any isolated human presence. In her Winter Cycle , for example, a lone cyclist rides past a row of bare trees that cast dramatic diagonal shadows across his path, and separate him from a vast, mountainous background. It is a lonely, even eerie scene. The force with which these emotions are conveyed are enough to remind the viewer of the most basic human needs and desires as effectively as Allen’s cave. Rebecca Hossack, with her gift for bringing the unexpected to London’s viewers, presents Allen and Dannatt as very different but complementary artists. CODA Frances Allitt T homas Allen ‘Fabrica, Brighton’. Joan Dannatt ‘Winter Cycle’