Beyond The Seen And Painted: Artist Jess Allen On The Power Of Observation


Through her works, Allen encourages viewers to appreciate the unnoticed, the understated, and the forgotten. In her series ‘Presence through Absence’, she explores the theme of absence and presence through empty theatres, seats, and sofas, or books left behind by an absent reader. Suggesting the past presence of a person, they leave the viewer wondering at their enigmatic emptiness and at who could have been interacting with the objects before leaving. Similarly, her most recent body of paintings, ‘Shadow Figures’, captures fleeting moments in time where a play of shadows defines the particular instant recorded. Depicting pared-back interior scenes featuring a tableau of silhouettes and shadows, here, the presence of someone is indicated only through their own shadow. “Shadows interest me immensely because they are silent and ephemeral,” shares Allen. “They are evocative, and like memories, they are a bit hazy. In a way, they are a minimal representation of our physical selves.” Encouraging free association and reflection, the shadows “are like the soul”, she adds, “always present with us, sometimes hidden, but revealed through our relationship with the light.”


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