ALLYSON GLENN - Bliss and the Dreadful Sublime
Reception: Saturday, October 7, 2:00pm
October 7 to November 2
Allyson Glenn has had an extremely active exhibition schedule since 2014, presenting her work throughout Canada, the United States, and Europe in solo, two-person, and group exhibitions. Art Placement is pleased to present the first solo exhibition of her paintings in both the city and province.
The paintings in the exhibition are drawn from two bodies of work that Glenn has been developing concurrently. A different residency inspired each series: one in Greece and the other in Spain. In both cases, Glenn was interested in engaging with the local landscapes of her host countries, each of which offered a unique and dramatic setting for artistic inspiration. In Greece, her temporary studio at the Vorres Museum in Paiania, just outside of Athens, was surrounded by vast architectural gardens with man-made fountains, sculptures, and reliefs set against a lush backdrop of exotic flora, all enclosed within massive stone walls guarded by mythological sculptural figures. The romantic setting inspired thoughts around division and protection, as well as classical beauty, myth, symbolism, and magic. In contrast to the idealized, utopic beauty of the Grecian gardens, the landscape in Spain was quite different. Glenn worked in the arid national park of Sierra Maria-Los Velez, where agriculture once flourished, but today few residents remain. The hills are now pitted with abandoned almond trees, sheep farms, and homes, a vista that inspired Glenn to undertake a series of nine large scale paintings addressing themes around water, abandonment, sustainability, and the sublime, but brutal beauty of Spain’s driest regions.
The two series of paintings are united by the similarity of their circumstances, but differ in mood, content, and thematic resonance due to the opposing character of the settings that inspired them. The works from Greece present lush landscapes rich in classical mythology and idealized beauty, while the paintings of Spain present an inhospitable landscape that is a site of ecological ruin, captivating but not necessarily beautiful in a traditional sense. Glenn connects the latter series to the philosophical and artistic tradition of the sublime, in which artists grappled with expressing the grandeur of the natural world and the curious, humbling experience of its power and scale. While the sensation does not conform to the familiar experience of pleasure associated with beauty, there is nonetheless a certain kind of delight that seems to blend fear and attraction; what one philosopher called an "agreeable kind of horror".
In her paintings, Allyson Glenn has wrestled with similar contradictions of feeling--the attraction of the repellant and the allure of the disastrous--for many years. Disaster and ecological ruin have been recurring motifs, often inspired by personal experiences. In response, she brings a degree of order to the chaos through meticulously constructed paintings with dynamically fractured compositions. In the tradition of modernist collage, each painting is an amalgam of image fragments. Stitching the various pieces together, Glenn presents shifting, unstable spaces that are held together by taut visual balance, formal logic, and abstract relationships.
Allyson Glenn is an Associate Professor of Painting and Drawing at the University of Saskatchewan. She has been the recipient of numerous Awards and Grants, and her work is part of private and public collections, including the University of Calgary and the Alberta Foundation for the Arts. She has exhibited extensively for nearly two decades across Canada and internationally in the United States, Germany, Great Britain, Greece, China, Czech Republic, India, and Switzerland. This is her first solo exhibition at the gallery, featuring new works from two current series.