Echo Avalanche – Alan Reid’s Women
Modernity, Dada, the roaring twenties, traditional figuration, geometric abstraction, ornamentation; these are the immediate identifiable leitmotifs found in the paintings of Alan Reid. Painting in Reid’s case is a graft between drawing and staining techniques, precise, measured, and often depicted with a pink ground. That most feminine pastel hue is used to disarming effect in wistful portrayals of eternal ladies-in-waiting.
Yet mere nostalgia or embalmed plastic fantasy is not what makes them compelling nor does their standardized Voguish appearance, i.e. beauty. You’ll note dandyish depictions of women and their abstract counterparts are subservient to the adornments collaged onto the graphic surface. Two-dimensional flatness switches into sculptural relief. Wood laminate and foam-core cutouts shape and accentuate the whole. It’s a shift in media that accessorizes a compositional element in the pictures much as a fashion accessory flatters an aspect of the body. Depicted in the upright manner of ancient korai sculpture we’ve seen these typecast women before in vintage fashion magazines, or today’s mail order catalogs for stylish apparel.
An echo is a reflected sound wave. An avalanche is a mass of snow, ice, and rocks falling rapidly down a mountainside. Reflecting the exhibitions lower Alpine location and its title, Echo Avalanche is Alan Reid’s synthesis of visual form with, musical impulses, filmic dramaturgy, and literary verse. He mellifluously conveys simultaneity of image, concrete text, abstract, and Modernist geometric forms. Reid’s femme fatales are a projection of appearances with the soothing rhythm of Stéphane Mallarmé’s “roll of the dice”, and the divergent registers of high and low diction found in Apollinaire’s Alcools.
Staccato musical notes, names of canonized composers, floating vowels and letters of the English alphabet appear. Their consonant sounds stimulate the spatial relationships of figure to ground, ground to geometric overlay and cognitive perception. Clues to his influences are playfully encoded; the clarity and line of Poussin, late Cezanne, the erotic portraits of Pierre Klossowski, Bataille’s ‘Story of the Eye’, J.S. Bach.
Alan Reid’s women are a syncopation of its many stylistics parts, and a projection of the perfect attributions that give rise to the expression of anima.