Guy Allott has, over the past few years developed a preoccupation with wood. Not a simple pleasure in it as a material, but a sustained unpicking of its significance to us as a culture.
In its living form as the tree it represents both a primitive prelapsarian state and as a material it is the primal form of technology, before we had the skills for metalworking. The individual tree, particularly in the history of art, inescapably carries a reference to the tree of knowledge which led to the banishment of humankind from the garden of Eden. It also carries twin associations with The tree of life, also in the Garden of Eden and the source of immortality.
Contemporary narratives of deforestation and ecological disaster are also a rich source of reference for Allott's pictoral vocabulary. For The City Gallery in Leicester Allott has produced a new series of black and white paintings of forest environments.
They hark back to Romantic traditions of landscape painting and their brooding tone has an inescapably Germanic quality. The forest, serried ranks of wooden pillars, has a deep duality to it alongside that of the material of wood. It is, as we know the source of life, of oxygen, for the world. They are also dark and foreboding and the source of all fairy tale horrors.
Allott has taken this earthly preoccupation and explored it alongside the exploration of space.