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Alan Ibell
03 July to 22 July 2018

The title Problemata is taken from Aristotle’s ancient philosophical text which poses questions across topics as diverse as ethics, the human body and meteorology.

Fans of Ibell’s spare, questioning canvasses will instantly sense the connection as he continues to explore themes of the unconscious, dreams, psychological space and the fractured reflection or shadow double.

“I am currently interested in the subtle deconstructing of figurative elements within the works to pose a kind of compositional “problem” that extends beyond the narrative. The works remain in the realm of narrative and the representational but aim to exploit the nature of the painting as an object within the architecture of the gallery space.”

The Problemata of the title also refers here to painting itself, and to both the narrative issues within the figurative paintings, such as problems of scale (the same portrait is repeated in various dimensions) and formal questions within the materiality of the work and its relationship to the physical environment.

Elements are repeated throughout the works to draw attention to the two realms. A small portrait detail within a large composition appears, for example, as independent work on another wall in the gallery. 

In Problemata #2: Thimblerig, an absurdist, existential vignette references the shell game or “Thimblejig” in which the player must guess under which of the three cups or thimbles the hidden treasure lies. The figure stands among three forms unaware of the snake that hides beneath one. He appears ignorant while the viewer is privy to knowledge of the danger, forcing the viewer to confront their position outside of the painting’s narrative world. 

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