Guy Allott: Super States

2 out of 5 stars
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© the artist and Madder 139 Guy Allott, 'View from San Bernardino', 2012

Guy Allott's surreal, sci-fi landscape paintings are most engaging when the compositions, colours and detail are at their most complex, such as 'View from San Bernardino' (2012). In this vista over mountainous terrain, with its scarlet sky and the overall colour intensity turned up to eleven, flat geometric planes covered in zebra-pattern stripes share a foreground space with the skeletal metal ribcage of a long-dead animal. Alongside is a small transmitter-like object that looks more like a toy than a functional piece of scientific kit, perhaps not quite up to the job.

A connection to the American West and the pioneering spirit of manifest destiny also runs through works such as 'Eagle' (2012), which features a flat representation of the American emblem, as if cut out in parts from thin, grained wood. It's both proud and forlorn, propped up on a snowy plateau by sheets of transparent glass or ice, equally protected and imprisoned.

Other paintings however, lack the same depth and experimentation with form and perspectival space and have more of a nod to the surrealism of past artists like Magritte than to the artist's own. This seems a pity as there are plenty of themes at play, among them the relationship between nature and architecture, and between utopian ideas about the space race and dystopian ideas about the potential demise of the human race.


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