R W Allen’s years of fine art studies in Central School in London are of great significance and have been throughout his career. Working in a studio complex comprising printmaking, painting and drawing in close quarters, he met a dedicated etching teacher who worked from morning to night assisting and guiding his students. The teacher was Norman Ackroyd , and Richard remembers him as palpably and infectiously inspiring to not only those working directly with him, but others close by as well. In his artist’s statement, Richard mentions two things that Ackroyd had said about his own practice as an artist which still resonates deeply with him: “I go where my instinct takes me” and “I actually feel that this is what I should be doing”.Taking the instinctive, dedicated and disciplined nature of Ackroyd’s practice as inspiration for his own possible future as an artist, Richard arrived in Australia with his wife, Ag, in 1982. He practised drawing alongside running his own commercial graphic design business; a career that also contributed to his development of a distinctive style. “During those years in the arena of professional practice, I came to the conclusion that design, in its essence, has 100 parts,” explains Richard. “98% are made up of elements such as common sense, logic, structure, mathematics and geometry; and the other 2%? – something akin to voodoo!” It wasn't until almost thirty years later in 2010 that Richard took up drawing full time; holding this breakdown of design principles as relevant in his pursuits at the drawing board since.
Describing Matisse, Bonnard and Vuillard as his “first loves” in the mid-1960s, Richard’s practice is continually evolving as he draws stylistic and technical inspiration from a wide range of sources. Some ideas are researched and adapted from Islam art, and recently, from a comprehensive design book ‘Decorative Ornament’ gifted to him by Owen Jones. Richard’s most recent work features watercolour drawings of exotically clad female figures posing in embellished interiors, revealing his pre-occupation with intricate pattern-making which characterises his personal style. Using patterns and the transparent layers of marks made while drawing them in tandem with gestural painting, staining and washes, he creates complex images somewhere between figuration and abstraction. In his statement he reveals a desire to “subtract towards abstraction; to create images that are enigmatic with increased ambiguity”. He believes that the human eye has a great ability to work things out: when seen in the flesh, the intricacy of layers, patterns and hues of his works capitalise on that ability.
“My art pieces are completely hand drawn. A key component is the construction of grid structures which form the foundation on which pattern and other details are layered, and in some cases subtracted to a degree. These grids range from an individual square or diamond shaped "tile" of approximately 35mm in width down to just 2mm. They are executed using a ruler to describe flat surfaces, and "contoured" through freehand application to express shape and folds of garments, drapes, floral elements and other embellishments. No tool is employed to assist in repeat patterning, transfer or rubdown - just time, and perhaps that merest hint of "the voodoo I do"!!” RWAllen