Davida Allen

Powell Street Gallery

Thick paint usually signifies a belief in cathartic self-expression. As the tidal wave of a return to painting has subsided, the link between brushy rhetoric and autobiography has now become such a cliché that artists who wish to demonstrate their awareness of the self’s contemporary erasure are expected to work clinically. Yet Davida Allen’s reputation within Australia has so far escaped question, even though she is above all a self-consciously autobiographical artist. Her paintings are about her private life as the mother of several children and about her role as a housewife who paints. She has attracted considerable media attention, as if it were a miracle that a WASP housewife could be an artist.

Allen paints like the most macho of neo-Expressionists; she blocks out isolated, full-frontal figures in swathes of oil paint over thick fields of color. Children are a major theme in her work.

to keep reading

Artforum print subscribers have full access to this article. If you are a subscriber, sign in below.

Not registered for Register here.

SUBSCRIBE NOW for only $50 a year—65% off the newsstand price—and receive the print magazine plus full online access to this issue and our archive.*

Order the ONLINE EDITION for $5.99.

* This rate applies to U.S. domestic subscriptions.