Allen Bentley

The pursuit of real interaction drives so much of our relationships. Whether underwater or in dance, my work explores intimacy and connection through motion. Energy and passion, rhythm and play guide my figures through moments of reaching, spinning, holding. We chase one another in the hopes of finding a similar resonance, an affinity with another.

I’ve always been a figurative painter. I use bodies in motion to tell my stories, exploring the relationship of a couple as they push, pull, flirt, and chase in dance or play. While doing a body of work on couples underwater, I found myself becoming as interested in the dynamics of the water that moved around my subjects as I was the figures themselves. The shifting water reminded me of the driving force in my work throughout the years: motion.

Suddenly following the currents of water felt as vital to my work as the catching the movements of the couple. In between painting work focused on the figure, I began exploring the water, not as background, but as subject. I’ve come back again and again to this work, and now have devoted the last year and a half to chasing this series. I feel like it is only starting.

What drive me in this work are the forms that shift and move in rhythms that feel tangible yet elusive. These paintings are both water and not. They can easily be considered non-objective paintings about rhythm and movement. The images are often based on photographs taken underwater but quickly deviate into more formal abstract territory: they may start from thoughts of water but function as studies of motion.

American Painter Allen Bentley Painting
American Painter Allen Bentley Painting

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While this shift in work may seem abrupt to some, I see it as a continuity of my effort to capture motion on canvas. Now instead of figures, it is paint that pushes and pulls, flirts and chases. One mark calls for a counter mark. One push calls for a counter pull. The paintings become a balancing act of forces. Open space rushes in to fill the void left behind by a strong ripple in the painting.

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