Born in 1967, Phillip Allen is a London based abstract painter who studied at Kingston University and the Royal College Of Art. With solo shows at The Approach Gallery, London, Xavier Hufkens, Brussels, and the Kerlin Gallery, Dublin. He has also taken part in group shows at Tate Britain, London, PS1, New York and The BALTIC Centre for Contemporary Art, Newcastle.
Yourself and your process: I’ve been painting for a few years now and seem to know less than when I started back in 1987 on my BA. There are a few commonalities that tend to reappear in my paintings but mainly it’s a case of having a very vague desire of what you want, knowing that as soon as you paint your trajectory will change. I tend to churn paintings out these days and so “starting” and “ending” paintings become very blurred.
Starting a new piece: I start painting in different ways. At the moment I’ve just completed some new paintings by re working some old paintings that were originally painted on 5 years ago. At the moment I don’t have a particular set of rules to start something off. I know I don’t want to make quick work, I like the idea of the work being an accretion of time and decision making.
Thickness, edges and frames: Edges and frames seem to be integral to painting and so somehow this concern gets caught up in my thinking. I can see that they operate as frames but somehow that seems to be the less important thing, if the most obvious connotation.
Sculptural: I did make sculpture once. My first show at The Approach had objects made out of painted cardboard. I would like to make something more substantial with other materials but I wouldn’t know where to begin or how to do it.
Change in direction: I was painting the same type of painting for a few years and began to notice that were not getting any better, possibly getting worse and so you begin to think to yourself that things need to change, but one never knows how to. The fear being that there isn’t a second album in you or an act two. And so, I started to undo all or my previous moves and waited to see what resulted.
Titles: On my iphone I get a list of phrases and words that I come across in daily life. These can appear in any situation. Recently I was on a train and a couple walked passed me, the chap in front of his partner and she was saying to him “ you need to check on me more often”….this went into the iphone and will appear at some point as a title.
Studio, swing a cat: I have quite a big studio but it’s a mess and is quite dark. It’s not very well organized and is strewn with paintings in various forms of completeness. I do tidy up every now and then but then feel alienated when inside it. I like the mess.
Robert and Sonia Delaunay: Everything is a big influence. I do like their work and the show at the Tate recently was great. My heroes/ heroines change weekly. At the moment it’s Vittore Carpaccio.
Wasn’t an artist: I’d like to work at Carphone Warehouse or in the Algerian Coffee shop on Old Compton St.
You can see more of his work via his website.
Tips: Do emerging artists have any tips for a mid career painter? I would just say that be patient, things take time and look at as much painting as you can, old and new.
Publishing date of this interview 12/01/16