Really interesting exhibition at Madder Gallery. A mix of sur-real, stripy, saturated land formations with  a hidden syntax.


“In Guy Allott’s landscape paintings, the very distant past and the far-flung future merge. His scenes are replete with improbabilities and anachronisms: fiery mackerel skies, techno-dystopic animal carcasses erupting from the earth, jolly-but-sad spacecrafts (evocative of 1960s toys rather than actual rockets), and discontinuous natural panoramas that clash with one another. For all their otherworldliness, however, the places Allott paints are to some extent real. He manages to plumb the depths of the history of landscape painting, both real and surreal, and emerge onto the other side.

In order to create these works, Allott must contend with a cultural mother-lode of warped landscapes: the pastoral tradition of Antoine Watteau and Claude Lorrain, the spooky wraiths of English Romantic painters (Samuel Palmer et al), CS Lewis’ Narnia, HG Wells’ end-of-empire fantasies, the surrealist 20th-century works of René Magritte, as well as Paul Nash and his followers, mid-century pulp science fiction book covers and Hollywood’s vast painted (and now CGI) backdrops.

Allott succeeds by carefully gesturing towards these, before returning the viewer to his own personal vision – an expanded exploration of the surrealist English landscape tradition, haunting in its relevance. The wrecks of an imagined future are rendered as monumentally present as the megalithic scatterings of Britain’s hilltops.

These visual tactics suggest that our culture cannot regard nature as entirely natural, nor can accept it as entirely circumscribed by culture; instead, nature for Allott is an unruly and strange presence, always cultured but always beyond it. Allott’s images describe the landscape as a meeting place between real and non-real that are neither nostalgic nor dreamily escapist. Instead they draw us back, insistently to the idea of the landscape – this most fundamental of encounters.


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