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Rebecca Allan revisits her relationship to figurative work in Kindred: Portraits of Couples in the Arts, an upcoming solo exhibition of paintings and drawings, June 12-30, 2012, at 2/20 Gallery in Chelsea.
Inspired by the tradition of Dutch pendant portraits, the exhibition focuses on accomplished couples in the fields of visual art, music, literature, dance, theater, television and philanthropy, including: choreographer/performance artist Ralph Lemon + dancer Jimena Paz; jazz vocalist Gregory Generet + actor Tamara Tunie; opera singersSasha Cooke + Kelly Markgraf; cellist Roberta Cooper + violinist Eugene Drucker; pianists Arturo O’Farrill + Alison Deane; craft scholar/dealer Helen W. Drutt English + Storm King Art Center co-founder H. Peter Stern; composers John Corigliano + Mark Adamo; writer Heather MacIsaac + designer Eve Ashcraft; singer/composer Theo Bleckmann + event designer Preston Bailey; milliner Rodney Keenan + decorative arts historian Philip Hewat-Jaboor; art collectors Janet Y. Larose + Lawrence A. Larose; architect Lindsay Stamm Shapiro + poet David Shapiro, among others. Allan chose couples whose relationships contain a special strength—characterized by pleasure in each other’s company and a shared understanding of the demands of a life dedicated to the creative process. For a complete list of the portrait sitters, click here.
In this ongoing series, Allan engages in a fresh examination of the dynamic between sitter and painter, through the tradition of drawing from life. The artist’s return to the figure was inspired, in part, by the 2012 exhibition of Renaissance portraits at The Metropolitan Museum of Art. Painters from other eras such as Judith Leyster, Alice Neel and Don Bachardy also served as important references for Allan. These artists worked within a circle of their own creative contemporaries—rendering compelling portraits of musicians, painters, writers and patrons. In their time, portraiture was their social media.
The impetus for revisiting portraiture was two-fold, Allan says. In addition to expressing her admiration for the work of her colleagues, it was a way to alleviate the typical isolation of the studio. The setting and intimacy of each portrait sitting allowed Allan and her subjects the freedom to enter into a special dialogue. Posing questions such as “What do you remember about how your visual life evolved?,” the artist also explored aspects of stillness and scrutiny with her subjects. Allan took it as her responsibility to evoke the interior life of each sitter, finding a way to describe his or her unique character, while also examining ideas of partnership and self-presentation within the unique world of each couple.
Rebecca Allan is a New York-based painter who has exhibited nationally and abroad for more than 25 years. Her most recent solo exhibitions were presented at Ringling College of Art and Design/Longboat Key Center for the Arts; Seattle Art Museum Gallery; John Davis Gallery (Hudson, NY); and Upfront Gallery in Penrith (Cumbria), England. Allan received her MFA from Kent State University and has been a Fellow at the Hermitage Artist Retreat, Virginia Center for the Creative Arts and Dorland Mountain Arts Colony. In September 2012, she will collaborate with composer Laura Kaminsky on a newly-commissioned work for the Frye Street Quartet at Utah State University. She is also the Head of Education at Bard Graduate Center. For further details on the exhibition Kindred: Portraits of Couples in the Arts and the artist's work, visitrebeccaallan.com.
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