Cathy Collings

The Hinsdale Doings

1978     June The Hinsdale Doings published a full page artist profile on Les just prior to his solo exhibition of drawings at the Woodstock Opera House in the Fall of the same year. The article was written by Cathy Collings. Article title: “Fantasy Landscapes Flow from His Pen.”

Breaking artistic tradition, Les Allen alters the “bird's eye view to construct his own bug’s eye view”. The images, landscapes and characters that Allen has created in his pencil and pen and ink drawings are rendered very differently by their imaginative and capricious natures.
    The artist, photographer and filmmaker, Allen a resident of Hinsdale, is giving an exhibition of recent drawings at the Woodstock Opera House in Woodstock on June 21 through July 23.  
    Les Allen describes his work as a “pivotal point between illustration and fine art.”  His drawings are intriguing, delicate, decorative and fanciful. He prefers to concentrate upon the whimsical nature of art while avoiding an emphasis upon a more theoretical nature.

Allen’s drawings are fascinating.  Working from his imagination, he begins with a single line, or one object, and deliberately includes awkward areas in his landscapes that he must later resolve.  The works are purposely ambiguous and propose conscious enigmas.  Always the concern is with form, not theme, allowing for a concentration upon events and continual happenings.  The images are often toy-like and sometimes Victorian in their attention to detail and decorativeness.
    A curious “bug’s eye view” develops in Allen’s work, made apparent by his obvious interest in organisms and anatomy demonstrated in his creatures and characterizations.  The artist makes constant and deliberate references to artificiality and things bogus. His drawings acquire an aura of a journey or a daydream.
    Critics have aptly described Les Allen as teasing at the “Chicago Imagist.”  style.  Carl Wirsum, Saul Steinberg and Jim Nutt are three artists very much admired by the young artist.  
    Most of all, Allen has fun with his drawings.  They are fantasy landscapes, clever, interesting, and lovely, well worth a trip to this exhibition.

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