If you’re in NY between April 4 and May 9 be sure you’ll visit the Josée Bienvenu Gallery. Justin McAllister is showing his paintings and drawings of fires that were set and documented by the artist in northeastern Pennsylvania during the summers of 2007 and 2008.
— Bonfires and campfires are sites of bonding and exchange … At the core of their function was the ability to quickly send a message over great distances. Imagining a scenario that involves the use of this archaic technology as the result of a loss of current ones, the paintings suggest an unknown cultural failure on a grand scale.
This feel of estrangement creates a romantic narrative for the work to develop in. The paintings reference the Hudson River School, its loaded iconography rich in symbolism and its masterful technique … The headlights of cars passing in the background are warning signals of the awareness that the paintings are not swept up in the nostalgia for the majestic landscapes but rather are theaters of manipulated information, mirror-signals of our time. —