J. Todd Allison's Strange, Surrealist Landscapes at G Gallery
"Reminiscent Vestige" by J. Todd Allison
A Winnebago rides cresting waves like some mobile surfboard, while bouquets of esophagus-like flowers hang overhead and sprout from the water. An air vent unit twists and turns, an upside-down chair attached to one end and green petals shooting out of it like a leaf blower. Birds fly over a miniature living room scene, where a red book is as big as a couch.
These oil paintings by J. Todd Allison are, suffice it to say, surreal. They're also some of the more concrete images lending themselves to description among the nearly 20 new works in a solo show currently up at G Gallery. In fact, many of the ink drawings and oil paintings consist of imagery that doesn't seem to depict anything -- or anything familiar, at least.
From his carefully rendered paintings of chairs, Winnebagos and air vents to other repeated imagery including birds, conch shells, fishing lures and houses, it's difficult to discern what, exactly, Allison is saying with this visual language. And the 18 pieces in the Houston artist's show are packed with this information -- visuals the artist has said he pulls from such diverse sources as novels, conversation, science illustrations from grade school, and a garage. So while the resulting images don't seem like anything of our reality, they are very much so, just highly disjointed.
However strange and unfamiliar his paintings and drawings are, it's hard to deny Allison's skill in rendering these flat, surrealist landscapes. There's an incredible amount of painstaking detail given to each piece, whether it's the loose-leaf paper-sized ink drawings or the massive canvases and panels. They're worth spending time in front of just for that.
"J. Todd Allison: Unresting" at G Gallery, 301 East 11th Street, runs now through December 30. For more information, call 713-869-4770 or visit www.ggalleryhouston.com.
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