Past Exhibitions > A Delicate Handling of Everything Photography of Les Allen

August 3rd through August 25th, 2019
Opening Reception with Artist
Saturday, August 3rd, 4:30-730pm

Open weekdays by chance or appointment, 312 479-2832
Fridays and Saturdays 11-4:30, Sundays 11-4pm

Les's still-life photographs are conceived and produced entirely in my studio using the large-format film camera and are printed on traditional silver-gelatin paper in the wet darkroom. There is no digital manipulation done to any of his images.

Bottle with Elephant Ear Leaf
Silver Gelatin Print
Aloe Plant in Ribbed Jar
Silver Gelatin Print
Two Bottles Three Sticks
Silver Gelatin Print

Artist Statement—Les Allen

While visiting my father's Stanford University research lab in the early 60's, I was intrigued by the tools of his trade, especially how striking, precise and seemingly perfect they were, but I was more interested by their form than by their function. The sense of precision and
perfection, albeit abstract concepts, did across my young impressionable mind at the time, and is now a vital part of my current work, both visually and conceptually.

In those formative years, I also gleaned from my father and from my two older brothers who pursued careers in science as well, the value of intellectual curiosity, careful observation divergent thinking, patience and persistence. While I did not pursue a career in science, I did follow an inquisitive path. I explored the world around me both intellectually and aesthetically through making art, and by defining my personal artistic vision, informed by my early experiences watching my father, and as a career art educator and fine artist.

Working in traditional silver gelatin-based photography, including the large format 8x10 camera, and chemically-based darkroom (now referred to as an analog process), was the method that worked for me to synthesize my interests in nature, science and visual art. For the experienced practitioner, the large format camera has great versatility and control over the
making of the photograph. The large size of the negative and the precise camera controls render the subject in great clarity, enabling even the slightest textures to become wonderfully lucid.

My intent is to create photographic images that pay homage to the beauty, mysteries, and complexity of the natural world and manmade objects that inspire me.

My photographs are not fully conceived a head of time. Each one is an experiment, an exploration, an epiphany. I work intuitively, gradually constructing each still life, one object at a time. The medical instruments I use are inherited from my father, who in addition to a researcher was also a thoracic surgeon.

Most practitioners in the field of science view the instruments and machines that enable them to solve complex problems as tools, rather than objets d’art. I am drawn to the craftsmanship and character of these objects, and therefor appreciate them in a different way. My work explores blurring the line between accepted realities and fantasy, and how each can make the
other more beautiful and better understood.