Pastels by an artist skilled beyond his years
● By J. Chambless
'Coil' by Tyler Allen.
Just marveling at the work of Tyler Allen is enough of a reason to visit his small exhibit at the Oxford Arts Alliance in Oxford. But when you learn that he’s just 18, a recent graduate of Solanco High School, the pastels on display become even more astonishing.
The stairwell exhibit space holds 15 pastels and a watercolor that reflect a professional level of skill, and a choice of subject matter that shows both emotional depth and artistic maturity.
“Hooked” is photo-realistic in its level of detail, with perfect depictions of weathered wood and rusted iron. “Wilt” – a dried wreath hanging on an antique coat rack – compares favorably to the works of Andrew Wyeth, in its subtle light, attention to detail, and its contemplative mood.
“Reminisce” is a view of what must be Allen’s bulletin board – the one indication of the artist’s youth. Both “Remembrance” (a silver locket and a strand of pearls) and “Neglected” (a homemade doll) have a similar wistful resonance.
“Hawkeye” is a pastel of a vintage camera that’s posed like it’s sitting for its own portrait, and “I-80” is a bird’s-eye view of a highway, farm fields and a towering sign that has acres of space and a sense of isolation.
“Coil,” a still life of a peeled tangerine sitting on a wooden pedestal, is richly depicted, and it has a splendid light that reveals the just-right details of fruit skin and time-stained wood grain. It’s a masterpiece. But even a tiny view of lilacs in a vase has depth and detail – the single dropped petal – and glorious shadows.
It’s extremely rare to see work of this nature, and so expertly done, by someone so young. With a beginning like this, there’s no telling how far Allen’s career will take him.
Tyler Allen’s exhibition, “Forward, Onward,” continues through Sept. 29. For more information, visit www.oxfordart.org.
To contact Staff Writer John Chambless, email email@example.com.