Ralph Allen was born and educated in England, graduating from the Slade School of Fine Art in London (1953). In 1957 he arrived at Queen’s University with a boisterous young family and excellent artistic credentials, to begin a long career in fine art education. This career included becoming the Director of the Agnes Etherington Art Centre (1963-72),Professor of Art in the Fine Arts department(1972-87), and finally Professor Emeritus on his retirement in 1987.
All the while Allen pursued his artistic career exhibiting widely in the early days, receiving several Canada Council grants, gaining critical attention through venues such as Canadian Art magazine, and entering important collections across North America ( National Gallery of Canada, Hirschorn Collection, Art Gallery of Ontario, and many university, private and corporate collections). The pressing commitments of professorship and raising a large family reduced his exhibiting in the 70's but Allen has resumed full time studio work since retiring 13 years ago.
A large exhibition of new work in 1990 at the Agnes Etherington Art Centre, and Rodman Hall Gallery in St. Catharines became the starting point for a renaissance in Allen’s work....he has essentially begun again. His early years represent a powerful reality for him and he works to remain in contact with them as a touchstone. Whilst landscape has always been an important feature of his work, in more recent years, Allen has been more interested in the human dimension.
“I think the figure expresses frailties and limitations of the human condition. The message I want to emphasize is that it is possible to express these frailties without appearing to lecture ...they simply ARE and are a worthy subject to explore dispassionately.”
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