James Allen (1941 – )
James Allen was born in Lurgan, County Armagh in Northern Ireland. He studied at Brighton College of Art and later taught at a number of art schools in England and Northern Ireland. He returned to Northern Ireland in 1977 to establish the Arts Council of Northern Ireland’s Print Workshop. His printmaking includes mezzotints, screenprints, various types of etchings with and without aquatint, and photoetching. His choice of subject matter varied widely and included landscape, interiors, cityscapes and figures.
An intaglio printmaking process and a method of achieving tone by etching a plate covered with resin dust. The acid corrodes the unprotected metal leaving only the surface protected by a speck of dust. When inked the plate will print a tone of black through to very pale grey depending on the length of time it was immersed in the acid. Its name derives from the finished print resembling a watercolour, and is a tonal rather than a linear work.
Landscape is one of the principle genres of Western art. In early paintings the landscape was a backdrop for the composition, but in the late 17th Century the appreciation of nature for its own sake began with the French and Dutch painters (from whom the term derived). Their treatment of the landscape differed: the French tried to evoke the classical landscape of ancient Greece and Rome in a highly stylised and artificial manner; the Dutch tried to paint the surrounding fields, woods and plains in a more realistic way. As a genre, landscape grew increasing popular, and by the 19th Century had moved away from a classical rendition to a more realistic view of the natural world. Two of the greatest British landscape artists of that time were John Constable and JMW Turner, whose works can be seen in the Tate collection (www.tate.org.uk). There can be no doubt that the evolution of landscape painting played a decisive role in the development of Modernism, culminating in the work of the Impressionists and Post-Impressionists . Since then its demise has often been predicted and with the rise of abstraction, landscape painting was thought to have degenerated into an amateur pursuit. However, landscape persisted in some form into high abstraction, and has been a recurrent a theme in most of the significant tendencies of the 20th Century. Now manifest in many media, landscape no longer addresses solely the depiction of topography, but encompasses issues of social, environmental and political concern.