Micky Allan - 'Places in Space'

John Matthews

The preface to this literary rendition comes in the form of a riddle:
                    When is a rose
                    not a rose
                    not a rose?
Answer -
When the stem . sacred icon and the petals merely homage-paying pilgrims. Gather your thoughts pilgrims and enter.

City by name and urbane by reputation, Anna Weis' gallery, or dare we say 'Hall de la Festival', continues to pride itself on the best entertainment paint, wood, metal and Kodak can bring. All too often galleries become stadiums, where a none too happy Marquis of Queensbury witnesses fighting cocks drawing straws with pit dogs for best position; where we find the ubiquitous show ponies, who after so much meagre flashing in pans, retire to pasture as so much horse flesh.

Relief!, for this time we find the enigmatic Allan. Micky Allan, the real McCoy without the trappings of bucolic pugilism. Ladies and Gentlemen, an artistic athlete. No, no, not in the framework of fashionable manipulation or competitive spirit but in the realm of discipline, harmony and honest dexterity. Let's face it, with all due respect to Doc Martens and Mr. Levis, never have so many walls of colour, been viewed by so many bores in black.

It's been heard before but none the less, I shall add my kindling to the fire of cliche - this should have been 'a show for artists by an artist'. Why? Well it's annoying for non-practitioners to accept, but those that do, glean a greater comprehension of the work when the product has been done (and done so well), as in the case of this show. For here is a painter... end of sentence. The practitioners should have been the ones to comprehend, categorize, chastise, or even glamourize this work.

Ironically, this exhibition transcended the Stonehenge-like circle of the artistic clique. Then again, is the irony of any show that appeals 'right across the board', simply a case (if not a trunkload) of the artist displaying the collective unconscious. It is a sad and tiresome fact of contemporary 'cultured' society that words such as 'irony' are used, or a state of amazement occurs, when any show is a total success. 'Total' meaning both plebeians and art pharaohs deriving pleasure, not to mention inspiration, from a show.

Perhaps there is light at the end of the tunnel - maybe it's not time for the 'Ray-Bans' yet... the forecast is looking a lot healthier. The artist has touched on something here, and the all too logical among you are uncomfortable. The show quite simply radiated on more levels than groovers like ourselves care to admit.

Do I go too far? Well, I think not. Travel only becomes a chore when the destination doesn't warrant the journey. This is not the case here. This excursion was composed of 11 paintings and 9 drawings, both super and natural imagery - the earthy and the cosmic. For some, no doubt, this voyage was akin to a day trip to Easter Island - awe-inspiring maybe but the mystery of the statues remains. (For them, a new Travel Agent is required...)

I shall plunder analogies once more by proclaiming that this exhibition represented a type of 'therapy' for the viewer. It's an atrocious term, but I mean it not in ihe sense of a Freudian catharsis in which the past is brought to light to expunge problems, but in this instance, in the manner whereby imagery (both conscious and unconscious - of the present, and the future) is depicted via brush, crayon, pastel and pencil, to guide, explain and even perhaps alleviate.

Shirley Maclaine, I hear you say? Nonsense - read on...

These works are as a banquet for the viewer - a rare treat these days when the chefs of art frequently create; indifferent to the meal being consumed, let alone enjoyed.

It's difficult in these times where angst-art is accepted, not to mention expected, to come across a show dealing with so much light. Light on both levels, both technical and subliminal. It's akin, I suppose, to discovering the all too elusive pot of gold at the base of the spectrum. Allan is of a rare pedigree. With her, the information sifted from Astronomy, Mathematics, and Science sits balanced on broad shoulders along with the purely emotional - culminating in a very sound portrayal of the human condition.

John Matthews, 1988