In the studio with Guy Allott

Posted: Mon Aug 17 2009

Guy Allott's paintings and sculptures explore and subvert traditional representations of landscape in relation to man's desire to explore and control nature. His work is currently on show in the Whitechapel Gallery's re-launched open exhibition 'East End Academy: The Painting Edition'. He has a studio in Hackney Wick.

Your latest paintings feature trees with holes in. What's going on there?
'The paintings at the Whitechapel are from a series inspired by images of American Redwood and Sequoia trees where people have carved holes in the giant trunks so that they can literally drive through the middle of them. I'm interested in societies like the early American pioneers who had that desire to conquer the landscape.'

I see you have a collection of old books about space exploration…
'An earlier series of paintings depicted 1940s-1950s style spaceships with landscape images on them. I was interested in the space race for similar reasons -again it's about that forging ahead into unknown territory and also the idea of East versus West.'

Would it be fair to say that there's a ceratin surreal aspect to your work?
'Perhaps more half real than surreal. The landscape references in the paintings are based on actual locations but if you look closely they don't quite make visual sense. Plus there are a lot of other references in there too; cubism, modernism, the sculptures of Henry Moore and Barbara Hepworth -the holes again and the fact that many of Moore's sculptures were intented to be placed within landscape. There's even a reference to the mouth logo of The Rolling Stones in one painting, it all feeds in.'