Theodora Allen in Cultured Magazine

In Theodora Allen’s paintings, weeds grow, translucent but stubborn. The plants themselves are drawn with scientific precision, specimen-like. While so many paintings these days announce themselves as artworks, bellowing their contemporaneity, her works seem almost like artifacts, remnants of something simultaneously here and not here—like a glassy Xerox of an ancient illuminated manuscript. They are what I imagine I’d find inside Hildegard von Bingen’s dream journal, if she were born in California in 1985.

In the first room of her show “weald” at Kasmin Gallery, seven plants look sun-bleached onto diaphanous blue shields, crests for the invisible. These plants, in Allen’s words, are all “narcotics, or destabilizers, or medicinal”—there’s your now iconographic marijuana leaf, next to your stinking nightshade, your wild poppy—but also “they are all survivalist plants. They thrive in poor soil, they don’t need a lot of water.” I respond, “The kind of plants that take over old castles.” Allen quickly jokes: “Or freeway overpasses.”

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