Nicholas William Johnson
ALICE BLACK will present the group exhibition ‘If The Walls Could Talk’, which opens with a private view on Wednesday 21 February (6–8pm). The show brings together the work of 6 contemporary painters in exploration of the role of the artist as allegorist; Dario Maglionico, Jessie Makinson, Lee Marshall, Tristan Pigott, Charlie Reed and Nicholas William Johnson.
Allegory, a derivative of the ancient Greek word ‘allegoria’ meaning ‘veiled language’, by its very nature demands a more active form of viewer engagement than that typically associated with the Instagram age. As stated by Craig Owens in his seminal text The Allegorical Impulse: Toward a Theory of Postmodernism (1980), “the allegorist lays claim to the culturally significant, poses as an interpreter. At his/her hand the image becomes something other”. Allegorical artworks “at once proffer and defer a promise of meaning, they both solicit and frustrate our desire that the image be directly transparent to its signification…they are runes which must be deciphered”.
The works included in ‘If The Walls Could Talk’ reward the attentive viewer. They ripple and seethe with latent atmosphere and untold stories. Encryption, subliminal clues, extended metaphors, veiled messages, obscured meanings, open-endedness are the tools of this select group of contemporary artists.
‘If The Walls Could Talk’ spotlights a group of highly accomplished young artists whose contemporary take on the theme of allegory invites us to pause, dig deeper and decode.