The Globe and Mail
René Pierre Allain
at the Drabinsky Gallery
Until April 26,
122 Scollard St., Toronto; 416-324-5766
René Pierre Allain's new collection of paintings, Modifiers, represent a significant departure for this Acadian-born painter who lives and works in Brooklyn, N.Y. Allain's paintings have tended, in the past, to be rather splendid, rigorously painted wall-mounted constructions of evenly applied pigment and - often - passages of gun-blue industrial steel. These were classically minimalist paintings that, because of the steel segments (which had begun as frames and had insinuated themselves into the pictures proper), had a lot to do with one's perceptions of colour in space and colour in rhythm and the energetic standoff between painting and object. Now, with these Modifiers, Allain seems to have relaxed himself into a suite of paintings which feature romantic, sinuous sweeps of colour, waving through the once austere theatre of his canvases and panels. It's as if his pictures, which once stood at attention, had been suddenly ordered to stand at ease. I suppose Allain, who is a consummately gifted painter, knows what he's doing, but for me, these new works look flaccid in comparison with what has gone before.