No Object of Simplicity

By Adam Norris

For Valla locals, it’s no surprise how lightly removed the VILLAGE’S name is from Valhalla. Brimming with craftsfolk and natural beauty, there’s inspiration at every compass point. Nonobjective artist Jan AllSopp knows this well – her works are evocative abstract designs with their own distinct personality and purpose.

Within her latest exhibition, ‘Complex Simplicity’, those unfamiliar with interpretive art are in for a stunning surprise.

But wait a second, I hear you ask. What is a nonobjective artist?

“[It was] about five years ago when I moved into what had been my childhood holiday house at Valla Beach that my art really changed,” Jan says. “Surrounded by places and objects that evoked happy memories, I found I struggled to find a way to express what I was experiencing with representational works. I found instead I could say much more through nonobjective works. People, relationships, experiences and the every day (which had always been my subject matter) seemed to resonate more for me if expressed in that way. I could layer meaning more. The ‘story’ I told didn’t need to be linear, rational or even recognisable.”

For Jan, evoking those happy memories is more substantial – more complex, if you will – than simple nostalgia. Reinvigorating recollections of happiness, or  amplifying the happy associations of a particular space, sits at the very heart of her artistic intent.

“My intention for these paintings is that the fun and joy they were created with will continue to show once they are in the gallery or someone’s home. You are right, I do want them to remind the viewers that happiness is available to them everyday, and hopefully they will respond by mindfully choosing to be happy themselves. My paintings were made to be taken home and enjoyed. This is why I encourage the buyers to play with how they display the paintings – there is no right way up! I see this as the final step in my creative process.”

The exhibition, ‘Complex Simplicity’, will showcase more than just paintings, however. With an interactive space, videos, and site-specific work, it is an immersive chance to explore Jan’s antropomorphic world.

“I admit I’m actually a fan of anthropomorphism and yes, my paintings do each have their own ‘personality’ which they express to me, and I hope the gallery visitors. Discovering their ‘personalities’ during the process of painting them is somehow always a surprise. One thing I truly love is people telling me what they see and interpret. I love that there is no one fixed meaning.

[I’ve also] always loved stop-motion animation. Its blending of both high tech and low tech appeals to me. My animations highlight that by having an almost slapstick feel to them, [and] I think they work well in the exhibition. The installation came about from a desire to inspire the viewer to create themselves, even if it is just in the moment when they walk around and look through the coloured strips. The interactive space allows and asks visitors to actually contribute to artwork creation. The whole exhibition is designed to be fun, and get you feeling happy.”

WHAT complex simplicity
WHERE Coffs Harbour Regional gallery
WHEN 22 Jan – 26 Mar

Image: From Now On by Jan Allsopp.

Original abstract painting 'From Now On' by Jan Allsopp #21043