Phillip Allen, Bombay Soutin, 2016, oil on board, 10 1/4 × 11 3/4".

Phillip Allen

Kerlin Gallery

Phillip Allen, Bombay Soutin, 2016, oil on board, 10 1/4 × 11 3/4".

Until about five years ago, Phillip Allen’s paintings had two distinct—and dramatically contrasting—characteristics. One was an energetically inventive, frequently cartoonish style of colorful drawing. In each of his ebullient oil-on-board works he would essay illusionistic depictions of strange spaces, shapes, or structures—envisioning fanciful 3-D forms within the flat confines of a painting’s surface. The other hallmark of Allen’s art, however, was a preoccupation with the actual three-dimensional properties of paint: an interest declared in his prodigal application of heavy, viscous clumps of swirling, streaking, many-hued impasto along the top and bottom edges of each composition. These dense thickets became above and below boundaries, partially framing a central playing field of pictorial contrivance. Some paintings elaborated deliriously spacey sequences of

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