MATTHEW ALLEN
As a Surface Becomes a Space
Sullivan+Strumpf  |  Singapore
Opens 14 October

Motivated by a desire to expand my practice beyond Australia, I have been based in Amsterdam for a couple of years now. This environment has had a profound impact on not just the work I produce, but my methodology and social networks. Of course the European history of applying natural pigment in various states to a textile ground is so abundant and accessible here, but the contemporary art scene is also very critically engaged, pushing me to develop my work in this sense too.

 My new work is concerned with time, labour and attentiveness to material. The highly hand worked surfaces bring the medium of graphite to its material and perceptual limit as the repetitive action of burnishing and polishing creates a shifting mirror like surface that gives way to its surroundings. Depiction gives way to reflection. Material, process, surface and space are compacted into tight forms that delineate a constantly shifting pictorial experience. It's all about intimacy – both my intimate connection to the materials and processes, and the relationship between viewer and painting.

As Allen burnishes fine graphite into the surface of paper or linen, he transforms this dark mineral powder into a glimmering field. Conducting and reflecting the light around it, the graphite takes on something of a diamond’s sheen. This time, the heat and pressure that have transformed the substance are not the result of geological movements, but rather of the artist’s hand... Each piece is thus crystallized time—a thickening, a compression, a condensation. - Macushla Robinson

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