Allan Gorman is both a very talented painter and a great human being. His beautiful work may seem realist but his approach is to “seek out the abstract elements I find within the reality of industry and architecture” and I like his personal approach of realism. He is now a resident at the prestigious Mana Contemporary which adds up to the list of his many accomplishments.
Allan is the first friend I met thanks to FB (yes it can happen the other way round!) and being both in NJ, he kindly invited me to a show and to his studio. I feel privileged to know him and to have him as a guest on this blog. Thanks Allan !
Allan, tell us about yourself: Where do you live? What is your background?
Thanks so much for asking me to be part of your blog. I’m sincerely flattered and honored.
I was born in Brooklyn NY in 1947, and now live in West Orange, NJ. For 40 years or so, I worked in the advertising and design business, first on Madison Avenue, and then running my own shop from 1987 to 2013. In 2013 I decided to make painting a full-time career for the rest of my life.
Tell us about your art and your artistic path
I was the third child, and didn’t have much of an identity in my family. When I was about eight years old in elementary school, I took a piece of paper, folded it into twelve little boxes, and put a little drawing in each box. My teacher absolutely loved it, and made me take it around and show it to all the classes in the school. It was the first time I remember being praised for what I did, and since then have self-defined myself as an “artist”. But, coming from a poor background, I was anxious to go into the business world, prove myself, and make enough money to become independent. Rather than college and formal art training, the path I chose for my creativity was commercial, and I did pretty well. In the 1980s, on the suggestion of my wife Susan, I tried painting a little for a few years and thought I was pretty good at it. But the demands of paying a mortgage and raising a kid made me set fine art aside for 25 years. I still had a bug though, and started painting again in 2009. It became an obsession, and I haven’t looked back since. Probably good that I followed that path though. If I hadn’t, I might have quit. (As you know, fine art is not a great way to earn a living.)
Can you describe your process?
I have a good photographic eye (I can see in grey tones and discern patterns and good compositions quickly), and use my camera to record what I see. I seek out the abstract elements I find within the reality of industry and architecture. For me, the objects are far less important than the interesting patterns, shapes, plays of light, and tensions created by, or within, the objects. I then alter and crop my photos on the computer until I have a good and exciting image to use as a reference to make a painting from. The image is then projected onto my painting surface and accurately traced off with pencil. The actual painting – I work in oils – is a process of layering and adjusting mistakes until I can’t find anything more to fix.
How do you get inspired for your new creations?
Inspiration usually stems naturally from what I did previously. I was in Chicago last fall and found myself intrigued by the angles and shadows created by the elevated train structures. Now I’m working on a series of “Under the El” I’m particularly excited about. Earlier this year I did an interesting painting of The Eiffel Tower. The tower painting, full of angular shapes, negative and positive spaces, led me directly to these new works.
What is the question people ask you the most?
“How do you make it look so real? It looks like a picture!” I really don’t like that question too much, because making a copy of a photograph is definitely not my main goal – there are others who can do that a lot better than I can. As I said above, I’m exploring the abstract ideas of the painting – the dance if you will, and only paint photo-realistically, so that technical mistakes don’t get in the way. If it’s a screw, it needs to look like a screw, not “sort of” a screw. That would be like showing up for a date with a huge zit on your face. All people would see is the zit. We wouldn’t want that, would we?
What is the question you’d like to be asked? “Can I buy that? Would you be willing to take more for it?” 🙂
What are your projects for the coming months / year?
I recently pitched the idea of a show of the “Under the El” series at the MTA Subway Museum in NYC. When I have a few more of these completed, I will start pitching them to other venues in both NYC and Chicago. Three of the works from this series will debut in a show at The Nicole Longnecker Gallery in Houston Texas, running Feb 25 – Apr 1, 2017. The show, called “Industrialism in the 21st Century”, parallels the work of American industrial / precisionist painters from the first part of the 20th Century, with the best practitioners carrying on this tradition today. Nine talented artists from across the US and Canada are represented. I also have a painting en route to Zaragosa Spain for an international invitational exhibit entitled “Something More Than Realism.”
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