Born in Ormskirk (Lancashire), Allen graduated at the Slade School of Fine Art in London. She has participated in numerous group shows since 2000. Her work blends abstract and recognisable forms, often using patterns reminiscent of the Optical Art of the 1960s. Kate Allen’s ambient paintings have a dreamlike presence. Creating the illusion of a vibrating space before and beyond the canvas, Allen’s works draw in the gaze. Blending abstract and recognisable forms, Allen often uses shimmering ‘moiré’ patterns, created by the overlap of independent intersecting patterns, to stimulate and confuse the eye of the viewer. ‘It is important that the painting can be inhabited, the viewer should be able to move within it’, says Allen. These works offer the illusion of differing depths and layers within the image competing for dominance. Honeycomb or pixelated patterns built up out of many smaller dots, alternate as you look at them, so the picture has no definitive order, rather an oscillation. A kind of more sensuous and sensitive development from the Optical Art of the ’60s, Allen’s work is visually and emotionally vibrant. Although they are cool and non-gestural, these paintings throb as if they had a pulse. Colour plays a key role, and the different palettes are sourced from photographs and adverts Allen finds in fashion magazines. It’s the origin of the colours used in the paintings that give them their unique fashion-related titles such as ‘Spring Gucci’, ‘Circus Chic’ and ‘Girl in Jeans and Red Lipstick’. An MA graduate of the Slade School of Fine Art in London, Allen has participated in numerous group shows and her work has featured in major publications such as Art Review, Vogue and Elle Decoration. She currently lives and works in London.
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