Swirling strokes create ‘UNITY’: abstract series on display at UNF

Morgan Purvis

Video shot by Morgan Purvis, edited by Jack Drain

Jacksonville-based artist Jack Allen has a new series of paintings, titled “UNITY,” on display in the Lufrano Intercultural Gallery from now until July 31.

Members of the UNF community came out for the opening reception on May 21, where Allen shared more about himself and his work.

Green Over Blue by Mark Rothko, one of Allen's influences.Photo courtesy Facebook
Green Over Blue by Mark Rothko.
Photo courtesy Facebook

“Being able to exhibit at the Lufrano Gallery,” said Allen, “for me, as an artist, it’s like reaching a plateau of significance.”
Allen’s work is characterized by his abstract use of color and movement. He began painting around 15 years ago when he experimented with his daughter’s art supplies. He found that art was a new way to express his thoughts and emotions.

Drawing influence from artists such as Mark Rothko, Gerhard Richter, Jean-Paul Riopelle and Wassily Kandinsky, Allen produces abstract work that he hopes will evoke thought in his viewers.

All Saints Day I by Wassily Kandinsky.Photo courtesy Facebook
All Saints Day I by Wassily Kandinsky, one of Allen’s influences.
Photo courtesy Facebook

“UNITY: Abstaining From Passivity to Oneness” was the work of 32 months. The series began when he reveled in the way that colors came together when they were blended on canvas, and saw an opportunity to portray how humanity can also be unified by coming together as humans.

“I hope my paintings have a subcutaneous effect on their viewers,” Allen said in his artist statement. “I want them to feel the energy of the diverse colors and movements, unbridled, uninhabited, yet UNIFIED in their final form.”

One piece in particular, titled “Aschew Passivity to Unity” sits in the middle of the gallery.

 “Aschew Passivity to Unity” is a piece that Allen constructed to contrast with the rest of his work.Photo by Morgan Purvis
“Aschew Passivity to Unity” is a piece that Allen constructed to contrast with the rest of his work.
Photo by Morgan Purvis

Allen transformed the painting by cutting pieces out of the canvas to show that not being proactive in uniting each other only promotes anti-unity.

Both Allen’s daughter and son attended UNF and he is a member of the UNF Foundation Board. He said he feels the theme of his artwork is especially relevant to the college campus.

“We really can become more unified and return ‘unity’ to ‘humanity’ by trying, and by listening, and by caring, and by sharing,” Allen said.

The “UNITY” series is free to view at the Lufrano Intercultural Gallery located in the Student Union, Building 58 East, Suite 2401.

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Gallery photos by Morgan Purvis

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