Visions: The Imagined Universe

Oct 17, 2010 to Dec 24, 2010

Jesse Allen’s paintings and original prints are incredibly alive, filled with plants and animals that may (or may not) relate to the “real” world. Reality doesn’t matter, line, pattern, and colors do, with an intensity and complexity that demands the viewer’s attention.

When I paint a picture, I am creating a secret place" explains Allen. " am forming a continent that does not already exist in my mind. It is a place that evolves as I paint. I want it to be beautiful, complete in everything, logical in its own logic, systematic in its own system, alive in its own life."
"That is why it must miss nothing. People looking at such a picture must feel ‘Here are plants that grow, living animals, air that moves.’"


"But when I paint I do something else as well. I take pleasure in my materials. The strength of my paper pleases me, its cleanness, its blankness. I like my brushes to come to a perfect point, not just for technical reasons, but because this satisfies me."

"The ritual of colours fascinates me, its laws and secrets. I feel that I am making spells. I want to use my colours in such a way that they say unexpected things, even impossible things, but easily and gracefully. . . I want mine to be brilliant and clear, but yet to go sensually together."

"My colours must give life. The same with lines. The same with patterns and designs. When I draw a line out along the paper, I want it to be new and yet naturally there, happily there, absolutely clear and unequivocal."

Jesse Allen’s life has been as complex, interwoven, and richly textured as his paintings. Born in Nairobi, Kenya, he completed a degree in modern languages at Oxford, taught English in Milan, taught French and Italian at Stanford University, and eventually left academia to pursue painting full-time. Long a resident of the East Bay, Allen now lives in Humboldt County.

Jesse Allen’s professional credits extend from Tokyo and Osaka to San Francisco and New York, with notable stops throughout the Western states. The list of solo exhibitions in Art Museums alone is impressive, including the SF Museum of Art, the Palace of the Legion of Honor, Palm Springs Desert Museum, Oakland Museum of Art, and the Taft in Cincinnati.

Allen exhibited in the Vorpal Galleries (San Francisco, Chicago, New York SoHo, Laguna Beach, Palo Alto) for many years, and is currently represented by the Chandler Gallery in San Francisco. 

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