A new art exhibit has entered the Clayton Center for the Arts this month — not by a student or professor of the college, but instead by local Knoxville-based artist Allen Monsarrat.
This particular collection of paintings by Monsarrat features several realism pieces showcasing everyday scenes. From a couple walking down a colorful street to a bridge lit up at twilight, all presents in vivid color.
One of Allen Monsarrat’s prominent paintings can be seen on display at the DENSO Art Gallery on campus.
Photo Courtesy of Clayton Center for the Arts.
Monsarrat derives his inspiration from photographs he takes himself, allowing him to experiment with color and light. His paintings do not necessarily look like photographs but contain more movement, which he credits to the added depth of using translucent layers of paint.
Painting was not Monsarrat’s first entrance into the world of art. He got his start working as a potter for nearly 25 years before developing his skills in painting. However, after 25 years of making pottery in Friendsville, Tenn., Monsarrat wanted a change of pace and eventually turned to doing what he loves to do most — painting.
In his artist’s statement, Monsarrat said, “My work is a very thought-out process, especially at the beginning of a painting. It is a puzzle to solve. What brush strokes to use to portray a texture in two dimensions? However, the paint or pastels begins to take on a life of its own. It may go through some ugly stages while I build the groundwork. And the bits I am not able to preconceive sort themselves out.”
The painter prides himself on not being “too realistic” in his work, instead aiming for a dreamier quality.
“To counter my tendency towards too much realism, I began working in pastels in 2018,” Monsarrat said. “Still representational work, but much more graphic, as the pastel pigments lie on top of the paper and on top of one another. They don’t mix like paint. It is the eye and brain that do the blending.”
Monsarrat’s collection will be up in the Clayton Center’s DENSO Art Gallery through Feb. 28. An artist reception will be held in the gallery on Feb. 28 from 6 p.m. until 8 p.m, where Monsarrat will attend and answer questions about his collection and process. This event will be free of charge to Maryville students and community members alike.