Alyson Khan, a painter from Denver, Colorado is inspired by visual opposites. She likes the clean lines of mid-century design and rough tribal art, tough and sharp geometric textiles and raw and primitive gestural marks. She is not religious but is attracted to two-dimensional icons and occult symbols, rustic chapels, and altars. “I am searching for a satisfying union of these visual influences,” she explains, “while aiming to work my paintings into something that has the same feeling as you might achieve in meditation, revelation or long awaited resolve. I like the juxtaposition of patterns and blocks of color, the strangeness of some of the shapes, and allowing it all to exist together. In a lot of my paintings there are large areas of dark, leaving room for uncertainty / contemplation / paradox.”
Having studied at the University of Colorado and then at the Art Students League of Denver and Hugo Anderson Studio, Alyson has been creating, exhibiting, and selling art in Denver since 1999. “My first paintings were on thick shards of glass from a shattered pastry case,” she says, “the glass ‘canvas’ was really my first teacher as a painter because it allowed for extensive experimentation. I used spray paint, watercolor, collage elements, acrylics, and paint markers. I transitioned to working on vintage windows with glass stain and spray paint and made light boxes out of these. I also made a lot of paintings and collage on found wood, some of which I posted up on telephone poles a long time ago. I finally ‘graduated’ to stretched canvas in the last few years. Before I painted, I made hats and record bags for local DJs out of upholstery remnants. The most clearly articulated theme I can see in my work is the joining of hard-edged shapes and a rhythmic use of color aimed at communicating and sustaining a certain, yet unnameable essence.”
All these influences and experiments have made Alyson’s artistry simultaneously ancient and modern. Her pieces look like carriers of both old wisdom and contemporary trend. She titles her paintings intriguingly: “The Courtesy of Filaments”, “Preference for the Myth”….
Alyson looks up to several artists: Sonia Delaunay, Agnes Martin, Anne Truitt, Wassily Kandinsky, Ellsworth Kelly, Louise Nevelson. “To me,” she continues, “their work is linked by an essence, a sensibility and simplicity that is realized through deep concentration or a intentionally honed and keen awareness of the subtle. When it comes to my own work, I hope that viewers who resonate with my work experience a calm, resolve or single-pointedness that arises from the arrangement of color, texture, and composition. I don’t have a set message, but am always thrilled when my work succeeds in communicating with another human being. I would say that whatever insights may arise from seeing my paintings, go with it and see what places it leads you to or opens within your self.”