Narcissus
stephen allwood

5 - 29 June 2019

While painting his latest beautiful, painterly works, Stephen Allwood says he was thinking of Caravaggio’s most famous painting, Narcissus. One of Caravaggio's most significant contributions to the Italian Renaissance was the stylistic element of tenebrism, an extreme treatment of light and shadow.

Narcissus is an exemplary showcase of this with the strong contrast between very dark and very bright spaces in a painting. Caravaggio entirely obscures the background so there is nothing but a youth and his reflection, highlighting the obsessive focus of the youth.

Similarly, Allwood employs tenebrism to explore the power of light in relation to his subject: flowers. He recalls a school experiment with a Crookes radiometer, where tiny wind vanes turn upon exposure to light, so proving that light is a wave and a particle. For Allwood, flowers are a perfect example for describing the ‘force’ of light over time.

Light depicts the beauty of flowers, whilst its force (photon energy particles), works to destroy that beauty. What is thus revealed is a different kind of beauty – in decay, much the same way as Vanitas and memento mori still-life artworks are reminiscent of the brevity and fragility of life. In his exuberantly painted Narcissus, Allwood is expressing the visceral, unseen power of light.

Preview catalogue

Bloom (2019) oil on canvas 1010 x 1520mm

AVAILABLE

Dieback (2019) oil on canvas 1110 x 835mm

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Crisp (2019) oil on linen 760 x 835mm

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Stain (2019) oil on canvas 1100 x 1520mm

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Petals (2019) oil on canvas 1165 x 1225mm

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Photon (2019) oil on canvas 1380 x 1120mm

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Lifespan (2019) oil on canvas 1375 x 1020mm

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Heatwave II (2019) oil on canvas 905 x 1375mm

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Narcissus (2019) oil on canvas 1520 x 915mm

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Posy (2019) oil on canvas 835 x 835mm

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Chocolate Mousse Cake, 2016. Oil on canvas, 910 x 1520mm

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Eton Mess, 2016. Oil on canvas, 1065 x 1065mm

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Pavlova, 2016. Oil on canvas, 910 x 1520mm

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