Look Carefully

Jenny McFarlane

Every encounter with Micky Allan's work is a challenge to the eye and the mind. Allan has the rare talent of being at once immensely seductive and terribly provocative. Her paintings in this series Quietly: Infinity and the everyday are no exception. They glow with luminous colour, their delicate tonalities finely balanced with a consummate colour sense - then the eye is arrested by a thick swipe of little-girl glitter paint. Amazingly the palette is not shocked by this kitsch inclusion which is only made possible because of the fundamental lack of hierarchical boundaries implied by its presence.

Allan's technique is so seductive that at first glance such slippages are not even noticed. This is a recurrent strategy in Allan's work. Looking carefully brings rich rewards. In these paintings glitter paint appears a strange choice for a colourist who can surpass the store-bought shimmer so effortlessly with traditional materials. In the glass pieces the transparency and reflective qualities of the medium are so successfully exploited that the substance of the work may be overlooked. Key to understanding this mystery for me is Allan's embrace of the everyday - the lived experience of reality and her appreciation of artistic practice as yet another site of diversity. Allan is a truly original thinker who can separate the real from received wisdom. Allan's world, as for so many of us, is populated with both kangaroos and fractal diagrams. Both in turn coexist with symbols of infinity and the spirit. Allan's dialogues with contemporary art, the national landscape tradition, kitsch and visionary abstractions infuse her practice and always enliven our apprehension of the real.

Jenny McFarlane
Quietly, Infinity in the everyday, exhibition catalogue, 2005