The verb 'to draw' originates in the old English word 'dragan' meaning to drag or leave a mark or trace and it is this essential core of leaving a mark, an evidential index that is critical to the work of James Allen. Not only the created trace of charcoal on paper but the need to transcribe and make explicit the perceived illusory traces caused by active figures and objects within and in specific relation to the urban environments that are so consciously selected and it is these environments that more often than not dictate, confine and control the movement and temporal moments of the human body.

These attitudes that architecture takes towards bodies are purposely controlled across the page, the language of drawing is used to translate the urgency of existence, evidence of marks made, lost, eradicated and replaced not only attempt to communicate a sense of perpetuation but also more formally to completely unify figure to building, building to sky, object with space in a staccato like rhythmic dance. These jostling points of selection vibrate across the hazy layered surfaces, at one moment fighting for order the next combining in the space out of the chaos. It is through Allen's potent and honest direct observation and a thorough awareness of the abstract qualities gradually formed during the Sisyphean making, that these images operate not only as well constructed, considered and intense visual displays of vitality and exigency but also as poetic extended metaphors for the existential angst conducted by an open awareness of the human condition.

Paul Hodge

Draughtsman and Sculptor