RVW | A Personal Nature
Delaney Allen's new show abstracts and alters perceptions of nature.
DELANEY ALLEN | A Personal Nature
By Alicia Navarrette, MFA CD ’15
To visitors coming in from a chaotic Burnside on a sweltering late summer evening, Nationale Gallery emits a lovely, welcoming, cooling glow. Upon entry, Delaney Allen’s (MFA VS ’10) photography pops in contrast to the clean lines of the space. While circumnavigating the carefully curated objects in the center of the gallery, I’m engaged by the images, the poetry, and the prospect of discovering connections between the pieces.
Allen’s photographs depict the colors of early summer, a time that one longs for as the season comes to a close. Upon entering, the viewer is greeted by a photograph of a figure masked in draped fabric à la René Magritte. The figure, Allen, wears a floral patterned shirt, which offsets the floral pattern of the fabric draping his head. In the tension between the two floral patterns, a colorful theme begins to emerge. This motif is repeated and reflected in a series of three photographs. The composition of the second is an abstraction of the first and contains mirrors posed to reflect two different floral fabrics against each other. The final image of the three is even further abstracted: two quadrilateral shapes, representative of the mirrors in the preceding image, simplify the floral patterns into bands of representational colors. Together, the triptych illustrates the title of the exhibition, A Personal Nature, in a way that invites further consideration. They each hide the person, and alter perceptions of nature through print and reflections.
Taking reflections into consideration, the connections between the photographs begin to emerge. A Personal Nature represents Allen’s relationship to nature and natural spaces. Following the triptych described above are more geological compositions. An aggressively colored, cavernous image, 25 Shots of Whiskey, depicts a natural cave with pools of water in the craters. Allen transforms an otherwise serene image with color layering so egregious that twenty-five shots of whiskey indeed come to mind. The photograph is hung lower than the other pieces in the show. The viewer is then guided to an opulent pairing of photographs that echoes something one might see in a downtown jeweler’s window. Sunset Dinner At The Four Seasons, Nevis, West Indies, is a composition of silver plated coral and a bead-filled orange half, all reflected blurrily like a sunset atop water. The opposition of the compositions demonstrates how Allen moves through nature and unites with it.
Allen further engages his audience as they move through the exhibition by utilizing the written word to illustrate admiration for the natural time and space he appropriates in his work. The two written pieces chosen for the exhibition read like unrequited, passionate love letters never intended to be sent. Adding written compositions to the exhibition moves the audience to consider the deeper connection Allen shares with nature and themselves.
Overall, Allen’s use of color, object placement, and photographic editing provides a clear understanding of how a relationship between self and nature develops and, and line between where one ends and the other begins becomes fuzzy. Nationale is hosting Delaney Allen’s work through the end of October. Immersing yourself in the work and sharing Allen’s relationship with nature is a lovely way to wrap up the summer while the nostalgia is still fresh.
A Personal Nature, by Delaney Allen, MFA VS ’10, is on view at Nationale in Portland, OR, through October 27, 2013. Closing reception and book release Saturday, October 26, from 6-8pm.