Signals in the Field of Consciousness

For René Pierre Allain , allusion is made concrete reality, object—for a
considered moment—before transforming back into pure painting. This is
the balance wrought between his sculptural gun-blued steel frames and
his more vulnerable fresco-like surfaces.

He has been working with aggressive imagery for some 15 years now:
heraldic military emblems, the hard-edged symmetry of fortification,
pure rectilinear geometry as a signifier of power and order. Yet his
painting method is tender, moody, contemplative. Symbols are stripped of
their original meanings and ownership and become something altogether
different, personal, self-questioning.

In our current moment of shared international military crisis, his new
"Tablets" works seem ever more poignant and evocative. His Tablet with
Camouflaged Device Bordered Gray, 2004, for example, seems to ask: How
can we as humanists camouflage ourselves against the cruelties of war?

A sense of place. Allain’s longtime Williamsburg studio, North Tenth
: a deeply-scarred hardwood floor, ghosts of past factory workers.
Today: paper cutters, sawhorses, paint in all its varieties, pigments,
mixing tools, a bevy of spackle knives, brushes, markers, masking tape,
clamps of varying widths, an air compressor, cameras, a tripod, a
vintage wicker baby carriage wrapped in clear plastic.

It is an environment of time and process. A place where structure is
given to prolonged self-examination. Like all good painters, Allain uses
the external world and its brutal historical imperatives as a way to
explore and emancipate himself as an individual. The tension is
palpable—and gives the work its distinct presence.

                                               John Zinsser , New York City, Spring 2004


Text for exhibition brochure

René Pierre Allain - Tablets

Roger Ramsay Gallery, Chicago , 2004