RVW | A Personal Nature


A search for authenticity in the neon passage of personal, historical, and geological time.

RVW is a regular series of brief exhibition reviews written by PNCA students and alumni. They are published monthly and feature works and exhibitions by students, faculty, staff, and alumni. If you would like to suggest an exhibition for review, or would like to be an UNTITLED reviewer, please email the editors at .(JavaScript must be enabled to view this email address).


“Recreating the Sunsets With My Finger Over the Lens,” 2013, C-print, 24 × 18”Photo via Nationale.


DELANEY ALLEN | A Personal Nature

By Teresa Fredericks, MA CTCR ’14

Flickering like lusty visions of dreamscape temptation, the teasing glimpses of Delaney Allen’s hyper-saturated world are tempered by a mercuric foundation in a Darwinian timeline. In A Personal Nature, a frothy wonderland of glitz remains heavy in the mind of the viewer like a drug induced trance, toxic but also mesmerizing, crystalline but devoid of all rational structure. The glowing abstractions in Allen’s work blur together into a half-waking dream, and the residual uncertainty of oneself permeate the work as a whole: time, both waking and dreaming, becomes so shimmeringly oblique that it is impossible to tell the difference between reality and its mere representation and reconfiguration.

Time as a wonderland of personal meaning and desire, however, also finds literal expression in references toward geological oddities like geysers and hot springs, lateral moonscapes defying the preconceptions of “ordinary” nature. Contrived still-lifes, gilt and velvety, are illuminated beside the geometrical textures of natural phenomena. Juxtaposing these images, however, only blurs the line between recognizability and truth, between that which is decidedly human and that which is systematically organic; imagine, perhaps, an aesthetic in which Amelia Bauer meets David Altmejd. Desire is written in the landscape: it is inescapable, haunting, and self-defeating.

This cyclical decay is reinvented, re-enlivened, in the frank theatrics of the gelatinous glamour of works like Sunset Dinner at The Four Seasons, Nevis, West Indies, 2013. In this work, the site of traditional vanitas is re-contextualized through Rococo elements of interior style and 21st century coloration; the artificiality of the piece is palpable and curiously precarious, as the bedazzled image reflects intimately the contradicting grandeur and stupefaction bred in a highly manufactured and unstable environment. At its core, it calls into question the very nature of desire itself.

Whether situated by technological invention or geologic strata, Allen’s work thematically insists that navigating one’s place in such twisted horizons of meaning gives rise to a peculiar type of self-reflection and introspection, to a search for veracity whilst constantly in a state of flux. The sheer intersubjectivity of these digital prints vividly underscores the translucence of sight and non-linear awareness. The accompanying prints of text assert this feeling of disorientation: at what point do these recollections themselves become unreliable, slipping in and out of our grasp?

“There is a silver glow in the valley. The glow fades into the sky. Pink to silver gradient,” one narrative recounts. This idea of gradient, of a liquid transition between the cosmic and the granular, manifests itself in the explicit visual patterning of Recreating the Sunsets With My Finger Over the Lens, 2013, and, less obviously, in How I Envision the Earlier Self-portrait, 2013, in which the identity of a statuesquely posed woman is obscured by an ultra-violet bouquet of hydrangeas. Ideas of re-visitation and subsequent documentation, of carving out a certain space in the hollows of reverie, delineate the artist’s, and likewise the audience’s, search for authenticity in the neon passage of personal, historical, and geological time.

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.

— Posted on 10/01 at 11:50 AM

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