Abstract Magazine International | Art Feature: Allan Gorman
Abstract seeks fine art in all forms that engages with both the crises and joys of our shared human condition. We seek art that engages the edge of now; we seek to explore a future forward zeitgeist with a respect for the gifts of the past. We are looking for both established and emerging artists across a broad range of genres. Our criterion is quality.


Art Feature: Allan Gorman

22 Feb 2018, Posted by admin in Art

Art: Pigeon on a Rusty Girder by Allan Gorman, @allangormanart


A number of years ago, while driving in the rain, I found myself stuck behind a few big 18-wheelers on a back road.  No way around them, and the wake from the mud flaps kept splashing on my windshield.  It was a bit claustrophobic and scary.   I was actively searching for something good to paint, and so had the thought: “maybe I could capture that feeling of claustrophobia in a painting?”  I tried.   But since I was only working from sense memory (couldn’t take any reference photos while driving), it wasn’t a very good painting–not something I would show anyone.  But that sparked the idea of big trucks as an interesting subject for painting. I would run around truck stops looking for ideas and taking reference photos and became fascinated with the reflections and designs made by the chrome and structural parts over the actual truck itself.  That started a journey of exploring the geometries and tensions created by the shapes of machined objects and the positive and negative spaces.

Since then, my work has continued to evolve and I’ve come to understand that what I choose to depict aren’t the objects per se, but rather the drama that I find within — or created by — those objects.  I like to say that “I’m not painting a picture of a thing, I’m painting the dance.”


Tallest Train Station in NYC

It certainly helped me understand the difference between the making of art and the selling of art – which are two totally unrelated endeavors.

Forty years in the marketing business led me to understand that for a brand to be successful, it needs to be perceived as a more attractive alternative for the people who engage with it.  In other words, you have to find out what might make the customer think “it’s better over there – I really want that!”  Following that logic, if you want to succeed commercially as an artist, you might want to do research into what could make a potential customer love your art, and then make art to address their desires.   But then, even if you make more money, you’d just be making commercial art.    And I don’t believe that’s the reason why artists create art.

As an artist, I think you need to define success on your own terms – not on what you think a customer or a gallery might like.  As I mature, I care less and less about what others may think, and simply try to challenge myself to grow with each new effort.  If people like it, that’s great.  If they don’t, that’s okay too.  The important thing is, did I give it my best shot?  If the answer is “Yes!”, to me that’s success. These days, I’m doing the best work I’ve ever done, and am happier than I’ve ever been.

Z Line Zs

When I’m working on a series of paintings, I establish certain criteria to define what the series will be about.  I’ve just started a new body of work that will push abstract compositional elements more than I have before by combining large, formal flat fields of color as a design element, juxtaposed against realistically rendered pictorial areas.  (See: “Shadows on the Lobby Wall”)

Once I’m fixated on an idea, I’ll constantly be on the lookout for things that I’ll be able to photograph and use in a new painting.  I’ll take hundreds of shots.  Then edit and compose my “blueprint” on the computer to create and print out a mock-up of what the final painting will look like.

When it’s time to paint, I project the image onto the support of my choice. The size will be determined by what feels right for the composition, not necessarily by the confines of a pre-determined, off-the-shelf size.  For bigger works, I’ll work on un-stretched linen, taped to a flat wall.  I’ll mount them later – after they’re dried and varnished.

Shadows On The Lobby Wall
The joy of dumping a bunch of silverware into a washing machine rack and saying to myself “Hey, look at that!” has no parallel. I think that everything about my experiences and my personality shapes the way I process and see things.  I’ve trained myself to look at details ever since I was a young child and I guess I’ve gotten pretty good at it – and I love being able to share that perspective with others.  But isn’t that the same for a lot of artists?
The show at 350 Bleecker features work from my Under the El series.  This started as another “happy discovery” experience that happened while I was visiting art galleries in the River North District of Chicago.  I looked down the end of the street and there was this rusted and crusty infrastructure of the elevated train line that made me think: “Hey, look at that!”  For the past couple of years, I’ve been systematically making photo safaris to all the elevated lines in NYC – there’s plenty of material to explore there.  The show features seven paintings and three graphite drawings and runs until March 10, 2018.

Manhattan Valley Overpass
A couple of years ago, my good friend and fellow artist Jan Nelson reached out to me to help him curate a show at the Nicole Longnecker Gallery in Houston, TX.   Because I was excited about the Under the El paintings and Jan was working on some cool stuff from a Salmon Cannery, we took the opportunity to mount a show called Industrialism in the 21st Century. The exhibit featured ten artists and photographers from across the US and Canada whose work carries on the tradition of early 20th Century Precisionism started by artists like Charles Sheeler, Ralston Crawford, Charles DeMuth, et. al.   It was a joy rounding up some great artists and artwork, creating a beautiful catalogue, and seeing such a great turnout in such beautiful gallery.

Keep exploring to find your own “truth” in your art – regardless of what others have to say.  The artists we all admire the most are the ones who have the courage to let their own integrity and spirit shine through.  You can’t hide who you are, so make it your life-long mission to be the best “you” you can possibly be.  And get out there!  Build your community.  Participate.  Use every tool at your disposal to expose your work to as many as you can.
I hope that my artwork brings joy to the viewers, lifts their spirit, makes them think, and invites them to see the world around them a little differently.

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