Nicole Allen | Second Nature
May 12 - 30
Join us in celebrating the latest body of paintings by Ottawa-based artist Nicole Allen. Second Nature marks Allen’s continuous exploration of flowers as metaphorical extensions of the human spirit, behaviours, and emotions. Allen’s canvases ignite with the tumbling energy of bouquets and tangles of blooming branches. Set against minimalist backgrounds of pure colour, each assortment of flowers takes centre stage. Petals and leaves fill the confines of the canvas, reaching out toward us and beyond visible boundaries like the constantly expanding self.
Allen describes her still life subjects energetically but sensitively. Her brushwork, at times, is loose to the point of abstraction; leaving individual flowers tethered to their identity by a thread. It’s as though at any minute the whole composition might shift of its own free will. Allen’s ability to capture contingency leaves her flowers living and breathing. Gestural and painterly marks capture the tides of changing moods and the curvilinear suggestion of body language.
Impressions III, ink on paper, 22 5/8 x 30 in.
“We refer to habits that are deeply ingrained and instinctual – such as our desire to connect with each other through touch, words or visual expression – as our ‘second nature’. I believe we are each born with formless beauty, and through my work I strive to express that which is formless within ourselves and within the natural world that surrounds us. I am drawn to colour, energetic brushwork and expressive line, which I use to capture this energy and hopefully provide a conduit between the work and the viewer. Our human fascination with flowers reminds us of our second nature: our innate beauty, potential, messiness and chaos within a world that so often fails to make sense.” - Nicole Allen
Joy in the Making II, acrylic on canvas, 36 x 36 in.
We are social beings who crave interaction. It is second nature to connect, with the natural world and with each other. Allen invites us into conversations based on colour, form and movement. Her palettes and subtle shifts in application of paint create soft moments of contrast, allowing individual flowers to stand out with a unique presence. Simultaneously, Allen balances this individuality in harmonious rhythms. In works, such as Grounded and Unapologetic Beauty (see below), reduced palettes of yellows and whites focus attention on the lyrical movements found in nature. Allen understands these tangles, interruptions, and punctuations of pigment as emblematic of the ebbs and flows of our inner life. Her specialized interest in floral still life allows her to revisit a timeless subject steeped in connotations of fleeting vitality, growth, abundance, and decay. As we travel through each of her canvases, Allen reminds us that imperfection is the true nature of beauty.
Unapologetic Beauty, acrylic on canvas, 30 x 36 in.
Born in Oakville, Ontario, Nicole developed an early appreciation for painting the Canadian landscape from her father. Nicole has an undergraduate degree in Art History from Queen’s University, and an honours diploma in Applied Museum Studies from Algonquin College.
After working in the Art Rental and Sales industry in Victoria, BC, Nicole and her husband Jeff settled in Ottawa in 1997. They have two wonderful teenaged kids. Over the years, Nicole has consistently developed her painting and figurative skills through her studies at the Ottawa School of Art and local art groups. In 2010, Nicole began exhibiting her work in the Ottawa region and now paints full time at her studio, as a member of The Loft artists collective. Her paintings are held in private collections across Canada, the United States, and Europe.