Canadian-born New York artist René Pierre Allain continues to explore his own unique territory somewhere between painting and sculpture with 14 dark, dense, subtly modulated steel reliefs that hang on the wall. Some stand out several inches from the wall, while others appear to recede into it. Gunblue, clear sealant and wax lend just a hint of highlights to their black and deep brown surfaces.
One of my favorite works in the show is Bowed Carapace, whose gentle curve forms a subtle protrusion near the center of the panel. It seems not unrelated to the sensuousness of a Matisse bronze relief. Open Carapace with Field View is a kind of landscape in which a severe horizontal plane is inscribed in the work. It resembles a model for a pre-Columbian ball court. Oblique Carapace, with its touches of oxidation enlivening the sleek surface, seems more related to painting than some of the other objects on view. Allain's works at first seem cold and foreboding, but before long they admit to a great deal of warmth and humanity.
René Pierre Allain, "New Steel Paintings," Oct. 21-Nov. 27, 1999, at Stefan Stux Gallery, 529 West 20th, New York, N.Y. 10011.