James A. Allen
Paintings and Drawings
Visits to hospitals and, especially, nursing homes can become a sobering addendum to our lives. I have drawn on my own recent and all too frequent experience with family members, using the "Elder Series" to explore the burdens of advanced age. My purpose is to express with poignancy the angst, the pain, and the incredulity experienced by those who find themselves living with a body and, perhaps, a mind that they do not recognize as their own. The paintings are small--a serious departure from my more typical painting practice--because I believe that the content, so personal and so intensely fraught with painful association, is best transmitted in an intimate, close-up encounter. Perhaps a more private and protective space is created between art and viewer when one necessarily blocks others from access to the work by standing close before it. I have chosen to create a very physical presence for these images by pressing forms into wet plaster to establish the major elements prior to the painting process. This guarantees a certain appropriate "corruption" of the individual forms and also seems to trap the figures in the circumstances of their decline.