Allouche Gallery is currently showing new paintings by Ivan Alifan, on view until July 27. The exhibition is part of the Bombay Sapphire Artisan Series, a competition that searches for the best emerging artists in North America, and a title that was awarded to Alifan in 2016.
Alifan’s work has been centered around the idea of exploring the modern gaze by creating ambiguous figurative paintings whose meaning is created in the eyes of the viewer, who is left to use their own psyche to interpret the image. In previous work Alifan has used highly erotized imagery to “disarm the modern gaze”. The images on view at Allouche Gallery aren’t as blatantly sexual as previous work, but still erotic in nature.
The paintings that are exhibited feature thick layers of paint and 3D-details, created by piping tips, resulting in excessive textures. Details like leafs, flowers and organic forms are reaching out of the canvas and into the room, making the scenes come alive. These works evoke a strong connection to impressionist paintings, both visually and conceptually. Especially the painting of a girl in a hat brings to mind a Monet-like subject. Like the impressionists use of moments from everyday life, the scenes in Alifan’s paintings also seem to have a realistic element.
The choice of using thick brushstrokes and textures to achieve an overall feeling of the scene is in line with the impressionist’s idea of favoring depiction of light and color over lines and contours. The idea was to recreate the sensation in the eye that views the subject rather than to focus on the subject’s details. It is as if Alifan has taken this idea and pushed it into the 21st century by using the “sensation in the eye” to highlight the eroticized gaze that exist today, and by doing so he is throwing the gaze back at the viewer.
The paintings also seem to depict realistic moments in some type of dream world or other worldly reality, mixing the realistic element with something more unattainable. This serves as a reflection of our relationship to media where the gaze has affected imagery to the point that we no longer know what is real or fake. Alifan’s images are both catering to our expectations and yearnings but in doing so also questions our visual references and interpretations.