‘Boudoir Concrete’ brings together a new body of caran d’ache works on canvas by New York based Alan Reid. Adorned with carved and painted wooden attachments, the works reveal figures posed in self-reflection. These large canvases are punctuated in the gallery space by the artist’s redesigned versions of Ulmer Hocker pine and rattan caning stools – a new facet of Reid’s practice for this exhibition. Originating from a singular fashion photograph, the works have gone through a process of formal experimentation, resulting in elusive images that subtly point to various passing moments, tonalities and moods.
The works here emanate from a schism between imagery and an ambiguous space full of possibility. Reid’s delicate renderings of female figures, part-clothed in delicate lace, patterned fabric and lingerie, capture the vivid details of these imaginary subjects as they contrast with the physical constructions applied to the surfaces and sides of the canvases. Assemblaged wood, flat repeating patterns, and pert carvings suggest design exercises and with these formal experiments, Reid offers a rethinking of his subjects, creating an uneven ground.
The stools’ functions within the exhibition are multifacted. Utilised as a means to formally space paintings, the grids featured in works such as ‘Thesis’ and ‘Oui’ for example, are also determined by the stools’ dimensions. The furniture is explicitly produced however as an object that makes a mark and that literally, once sat on, would leave an impression on the skin.
Reid’s interest in 20th century design and elements of Modernism is clear. Not only for the inclusion of these reworked stools, but also from the depiction of intricate Modernist patterns and symbols and his channeling of the Modernist relationship between frame and framed, whilst also touching upon Brancusis’ equalization of pedestal and work.
In parallel to this and stripped of context, personality and narrative, Reid’s subject becomes a tool of his artistic vocabulary; unknowable and indefinable women seemingly charged with psychological acumen and emotional intensity, they are open to interpretation here. Reid’s interest is in highlighting fragmentations with unrelenting beauty and real tenderness, through a fashionable, yet odd, sensibility. Here Reid traces an arc between delight, humour, permissiveness and a taking pleasure in the allowance of vagueness.