Galerie Allen is a run by the Australian team of independent curator Joseph Allen Shea and artist Mel O'Callaghan, and is situated just west of Gare du Nord, in the tentatively gentrifying ninth arrondissement. These things are a departure from standard Paris format; they’ve eschewed the Marais, the (admittedly awful) left bank, and the more obvious cluster of new galleries centered in Belleville. Plus, there’s the involvement of an artist. The space itself is also something of a hybrid; the very light front gallery backs onto a small courtyard, behind which is the artist’s studio.
In line with this, they offer something a little different, promising a focus on contextual, off-site, curatorial and academic enquiry and reinvention, while also understanding the needs of artists: in their words, "a solution for our times." Lofty claims—and again—not the norm for Paris. On the evidence of this first exhibition they don’t necessarily disappoint, albeit maybe within the limited scope of a successful art show.
Colin Snapp, IRND Coral1-2, 2014, Infared ND lens filter and 35mm konica print, 63x44 cm (framed), Unique; Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Allen, Paris
Colin Snapp is a young American artist whose interest is in the mediative effects of the image and image production. Here he produced a coherent, successful show, my only disappointment being that, due to a slightly late arrival at the opening I failed to see the longer video work he was showing. I don’t know whose fault this is, but I’m definitely blaming someone other than myself. The first thing I liked was that it had me second-guessing from the second I walked in. When I’d received the email and press release and all that stuff and matter in advance of the show, I’d looked through it and commented to myself on what a shame it was that they’d had to flip the video stills 90 degrees to make it work in the pdf. Then, upon entering the gallery I realized I wasn’t looking at videos, but high quality c-prints of video stills, and they were, indeed, flipped through 90 degrees. More fool me. But this is one of those neat little tricks that lets you see again, in this case the—and I use this word with some hesitation given my previous form—beauty that can be found in the material reality of these images, if you like. This is a reflection and inversion of the subject of the images—beautiful natural things, like flowers—which, in this instance, are not as beautiful as they are in real life.
Colin Snapp, IRND Tobacco/StormBlue, 2014, Infared ND lens filters and 35mm konica print, 63x44 cm (framed), Unique; Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Allen, Paris
Other than these works, the TC Studies, we also have a four channel video work, Deluxe Automatic, in a late seventies color palette I particularly appreciated, where a studio lamp advances and retreats to a pulsing rhythm, plus the exhibition's eponymous series IRND, where we see images mediated by different IRND lens filters, again giving multi-layered images that both distort and re-make. They are all strong, arresting images. But this brings me back to the element of this show I really appreciated, asides from the images themselves, and one I feel is often overlooked for whatever reason: coherence. If you take your time and look at what is in front of you, the artist’s interests become clear; there is a progression and exploration taking place that feels neither contrived nor forced. I know this probably sounds terrible in a certain way, but it's great to be able to "get it," and for this getting it to not take anything away from what we are seeing.
[Image on top: Colin Snapp, TC00032426, 2013, c-print, 177 x 115.5 cm (framed), Unique; Courtesy of the artist and Galerie Allen, Paris]