Steven Allan’s works are paintings that act like prints. His brushstrokes seem not so much applied as gouged, their scratched and apparently subtractive strokes redolent of the physicality of the woodblock printer rather than the delicacy of the painter. It’s perhaps the starkness of the printed image that particularly appeals to Allan: his works seem lit by flashes of lightning, the shadows graphic and hard. Their allusions to the printed picture calls to mind a history of book illustration that seems relevant to Allan’s curious iconography of characters. His banana men, leaping, scuttling or dancing in wild abandon, seem distant cousins of Tenniel’s proto-surrealist images for ‘Alice in Wonderland’.

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