Enclosures

Alan Ibell, November 3 - 28 2020

Parlour Projects, Hastings

 

The state of enclosure is one we have become more familiar with this year, as we closed off our country’s borders, shut ourselves inside our homes, and became confined to our physical ‘bubbles’ and our digital Zoom frames. The theme of containment runs throughout Alan Ibell’s new works, but where lockdown created for many an exhausted over-familiarity with their surroundings, Ibell’s works remind us instead of the unknown possibilities that can lie within or beyond the enclosure.

 

The houses in the Night Stories paintings contain stories that must be imagined by the viewer, who is called upon to envisage not just the interiors of these multi-storied dwellings, but also the stories of their inhabitants, shut away from public view. The two Enclosure paintings tantalizingly encourage viewers to imagine the envelopes’ contents, to wonder if their senders are hidden behind the shuttered windows of the adjacent houses, or are enclosed within the frames of other paintings – A New Passage, perhaps, where the claustrophobic hills nevertheless hold within them the possibility of a pass from which to view their other side, or Figure with Trees (Introspection), where the artificiality of the enclosing frame is mirrored within the painting itself.

 

This is, ultimately, a show not about isolation but about connection, in which the works speak to one another through repeated formal elements (echoed shapes, colours) but also through the viewer herself, who, moving from work to work, is repeatedly encouraged to confront her voyeurism and her tolerance for deferred understanding. Continuing the artist’s journey from representation to abstraction, these new works invite a meditation on the public and private selves that lie within.