Watercolors of a sport fisherman's catch? At first, that might sound like a guarantee of some soporifically tame art. In fact, there's something almost compulsive, or maybe scientific, in the way that Californian William Allan documents some of the many different fish he's caught over the years. They're all shown isolated on white grounds, like lab specimens set out on white Formica. Each one is rendered using precisely the same technique and watercolor palette, as though there's been an effort to pare the painter's medium to the visual essentials needed to depict essential fishiness. You might almost compare Allan's fish to the systematic catalogues of industrial structures compiled by German art photographers Berndt and Hilla Becher. Almost, that is, until you read the cheaply mounted texts that interrupt them on the wall. There's a self-serving, self-regarding, cliche-stuffed introduction by the 69-year-old Allan about how hard it is to be a hard-bitten artist, a senior citizen and a new father all at once. And then a series of autobiographical "fish tales" -- neither tall nor gripping, but mostly stale and sentimental -- that are hung between each of the nine watercolors.
Rather than fighting against the first impression that these paintings might be sleep-inducing, the texts are like a dose of Nyquil poured on top.