By Allen Bentley
30 January – 24 February, 2007
Opening Reception with the Artist
First Friday, February 2nd, 6 - 8:30 pm
Gallery Hours: Tuesday - Saturday 10am – 6 pm
Tempting is a show of Allen Bentley’s most recent oil paintings and figure drawings. This exhibition of new works will be shown at the Bridgette Mayer Gallery from January 30 – February 24, 2007, with an opening reception held in the gallery on First Friday, February 2, from 6:00 - 8:30 pm.
Allen Bentley has been depicting couples at dance and play for nearly a decade, and his work conveys the assuredness and comfort of the familiar. Approaching the physique as a classicist might, he pays close attention to musculature, torsion, balance and weight and uses his ease and knowledge of the human form to pursue the emotional and communicative expressions revealed by touch. Rather than limit his practice, the narrow parameters and repetitious dedication provided a depth to the work that carries it beyond literal subject matter and towards a complex investigation into the human condition. Though he paints men and women in motion, Bentley’s subject is in fact the body, and more precisely, the body as a means of non-verbal communication.
The intimate energy that Bentley’s paintings evoke is facilitated by a number of formal decisions. First among them are the backgrounds, intense and strident abstract fields which remove the players from reality and lock them in dreamlike states delineated by color. A second is the oblique angle of representation, employed in a way that shields the subjects from the directed gaze of both artist and viewer, and defines their private space. The third is the extraordinary dynamism of the work, notably the animation and the natural ease of the postures. In part, these successes seem to be a result of the increasingly close relationship between Bentley’s painting and drawing. A dynamic and instinctual draftsman, his graphic works have long been fluid and free, and the most recent canvases capture this unburdened spirit to great success, often conveying a raw and unbridled character which, as the artist says, "push the painting[s] well past comfort." (excerpt from a catalogue essay by Katie Stone Sonnenborn)
Allen Bentley was born in 1972 in Charlotte, North Carolina. He currently resides in New York. He received his M.F.A. from the University of Pennsylvania in 2000 which followed his studies for a B.F.A. Cum Laude degree in Painting, Drawing, and Printmaking from Western Carolina University, Cullowhee North Carolina in 1996.