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Mixed media painting

Allyson Clay’s "Traces of a City in the Spaces Between Some People" is a series of twenty diptychs contrasting fabricated faux finishing with expressionist painting and text. The fabricated paint applications evoke city surfaces like concrete and granite; they also evoke modernist painting.  Unlike modernist painting, however, the faux surfaces are decorative and mechanically painted. The choice to have the surfaces fabricated serves to disrupt the egoism of modern abstraction and the importance of the aura in art. By contrast, next to the fabricated surfaces are hand-painted, expressionist images of moody skies. Silkscreen texts are superimposed on the skies and reveal personal narratives and conversations. Although these works were made before the influx of social networking and blogging, Clay’s texts are like fragments of conversations culled from the world. The content of the personal narratives and conversations includes an array of subjective, often emotional, experiences about daily life. For example, in “Tactics” a woman panics about encountering a man on a city street and the ensuing feeling of vulnerability; conversely, the narrator in “Vista” is a voyeur and takes pleasure in that transgression. Realms of private thoughts and embodied experiences are made public on Clay’s canvases and serve to complicate the conventions and precincts of modern painting.


Exhibition:  Costin and Klintworth, Traces of a City in the Spaces Between Some People, Toronto, Ontario, 1990; Southern Alberta Art Gallery, Traces of a City in the Spaces Between Some People, Lethbridge, Alberta, 1990; Charles H. Scott Gallery, Traces of a City in the Spaces Between Some People, Vancouver, British Columbia, 1992.

collection of David MacWilliam.

Material: mixed media on medite.

Document type: 
24 x 48 inches