Barbara Allie - Artist's Statement:
My current figurative canvases depict "contemporary attitudes".
I use body language to illustrate deeper emotion and complex feelings.
* My latest artwork is both autobiographical and
at the same time universal. The newest work is figurative and more
personal. In the earlier work I relied on formal elements, color,
and emotion to give meaning to my art. The new work maintains some
of the same abstract qualities as previous work, but existential
issues of isolation and anxiety are more apparent.
Growing up in the San Francisco Bay Area in the
fifties, artists such as Richard Diebenkorn, Nathan Oliveria, and
Manuel Neri heavily influenced me. Therefore, this series seems
to place me within a greater art historical context, specifically
the Bay Area Figurative Paintings. I also evolved out of a foundation
of abstract painting to include the figure. My approach to painting
is similar to Elmer Biscoff and Richard Diebenkorn. Like them, I
react to the light and color of the California landscape. Other
significant artistic influences and thought came later in the seventies
and eighties after an education steeped in western art history.
My educational journey included several trips to Europe where I
was taken with the colorful paintings of Edouard Vuillard, Pierre
Bonnard, and Henri Matisse. Within the same time span I discovered
the ideas of Carl Jung, Victor Frankel, and Friedrich Nietzsche.
It is the Existential writers to whom I owe a
debt of understanding, an understanding that deepens the meanings
of my latest artwork. I am aware of my immortality and that only
I can find meaning to my existence in a world of absurdity. Yet,
at the same time I am responsible for my choices that can create
anxiety and isolation. It is this sense of isolation and detachment
I bring to my figurative imagery. I see the figures in my work as
archetypal metaphors depicting universal themes relevant to humanity
in an ever-changing technological environment. Much as the Gothic
writers reacte! d to the industrial age, my images often seem to
mirror the macabre nature of humanity.
In my new paintings I am placing my figures within
environments, yet, still my focus is on a single figure to convey
emotion a sense of isolation to my work. Also in my newest painting
while they contain a single figure they engage the view more directly.
I want the surrounding environment to help me express humanity and
greater awareness of our own awareness to existential issues.
I do start with a photo, normally one that I take.
That way, I can get the basic gesture I like or want to use as a
springboard to the artwork. I had started to work mainly from my
imagination, but found when I referred to a photo at the beginning;
I was able to paint freely as I did with the abstracts. The beauty
is, that with all of those years of abstract artwork and I don't
have to worry about paint handling, composition, or color. And,
then at that point, my main concern is to breathe life into each
painting and have it say something meaningful to the viewer.