Barry Allikas New Logic
Works in the exhibition
Fans of Quebec abstraction have known Barry Allikas for some time. In the nineties, alone among his few authentic peers Allikas chose to engage directly with the formal language of the Plasticiens; his paintings of that time were hard-edge, flat, geometric, and committed to the rectangle. But although using the vocabulary of Guido Molinari and Yves Gaucher, he nonetheless sounded quite a different note, swerving from their pure and idealistic formalism by adding an element of chance to his creative process; as well as a symbolic, deeply embedded kind of figuration. These innovations were parallel to the general post-modernization that was occurring elsewhere in abstract painting at that time, as in the work of New York artists Peter Halley and Ross Bleckner. Allikas made the most of his time, producing a large body of work. The developments in his practice led to further advances in the personalization of his palette, and to a greater freedom in composition. For a time he made pictures that were biomorphic in imagery, and drawing on pop music for inspiration.
In his recent body of work, Allikas has brought his development to another level, arguably becoming a true inheritor of the Plasticiens: no longer simply continuing but genuinely fulfilling what came before. In synthesizing the influences of the lyrical and biomorphic with those of hard-edge, geometric abstraction, Allikas has arrived at a solution to the problems he set to work at solving in his studio, two decades ago; the answer to how to deploy these tools and make them complement each other turned out to be the adoption of an even older strategy: automatic drawing, but with a twist - the computer. Having arrived at the idea of doing blind drawings on the computer, his formal language exploded, becoming freer and more individual than ever before; in these new works, his drawing has simplified and gained in rigorousness, embracing any possible line while adhering to pristine hard-edged distinction between area and area. The color sings; the presence and power in the work is undeniable: Allikas has achieved a new logic.