Jonathan Allen's fictitious gospel magician persona presents a heady mix of Christian evangelism and glitzy showmanship. Described by one observer as a meeting of Billy Graham and David Copperfield via Donald Rumsfeld. Tommy Angel presents before his audiences, a brutal and narcissistic miracle worker deploying suspect wonders with casual ease.
Tommy Angel and Jonathan Allen
A white-tipped magician's wand in the shape of a crucifix offers questionable salvation. Mind-reading and worship conspire in the cards on a church hymn board. A bible bursts into flames when opened. While the artistry of Tommy Angel's power is never fully hidden, the omnipresence of magic's relationship with religion and the relationships of power upon which both rely, is stirringly observed in Jonathan Allen's photographs and live magic' performances.
Allen's fictitious gospel magician' persona presents a heady mix of Christian evangelism and glitzy magic showmanship. Described by one observer as a meeting of Billy Graham and David Copperfield via Donald Rumsfeld', Tommy Angel preens before his audiences, a brutal and narcissistic miracle worker deploying suspect wonders with casual ease. Allen recasts iconographical conventions such as the Beheading of John-the-Baptist, Madonna and Child, and The Baptism of Christ against a dark political landscape - with the West fixated on Islamic fundamentalism, he satirises fundamentalism's Christian face.
There is a curious inversion here - whilst Allen acts out Tommy Angel to create disconcerting still photographic images, his live performances seem to document the resulting tableaux. Fiction begets fiction. Tommy Angel¹s routines become a double-edged meditation on representation itself, highlighting the ambivalent power of illusion and its role in assembling our sense of the real.
Jonathan Allen has recently performed for the opening of the Hayward Gallery's Eyes, Lies and Illusions, ZOO Art Fair, the De La Warr Pavilion as part of Variety, and for Duckie, with whom he will be performing at Tate Britain in February 2006. He has been commissioned to exhibit and perform at the first Singapore Biennale in September 2006. Jonathan Allen is currently supported by Arts Council England, and Artsadmin.
Private View. Thursday 19 January 6.30 - 8.30.
David Risley Gallery
45 Vyner Street - London
Gallery hours: Thursday Sunday. 12.00 6.00 or by appointment