Allison Renshaw's colorful collages put sweetness in chaos

Beautiful, colorful fragments inspired by modern living and nature compose abstract collages and mixed-media pieces by Allison Renshaw in the exhibition “Better than Candy.”  

On view at Mirus Gallery (in the South of Market space’s first solo exhibit since it opened in November), the show includes about 20 works made in the past four years, from small untitled collages with white and neon backgrounds to massive, chaotic paintings like “Fever.”

“I have been investigating fragmented imagery and am interested in how partial images create malleable boundaries and open the work up to a variety of interpretations,” Renshaw says.

The Encinitas-based artist’s first solo exhibition in Northern California creates a world, she says, where “fashion, modern architecture and the natural environment combine and collide.”

Natural elements of her home environment appear in her works; images of swirling ocean waves and cloudy skies are scattered throughout her paintings.

“I have been told that my work is very Southern California in its color,” she says, “and I am a very outdoors person so I believe all of the hiking, surfing and skiing definitely affects the work.”

Feminine imagery infused in her work is equally important: giant lipstick tubes, women’s hair and fragments of idealized, tanned female bodies pop up all over “Better than Candy.”

Those images, grouped next to bright colors, jewels, jellybeans and even cotton-candy colored lips, evoke a sweetness that is open to various meanings.

“Each person comes to the collage of images with his or her own interpretation and a new whole is created,” Renshaw says.

Her favorite painting in the exhibition is the enormous “Pervette,” which has provocative shapes and is named after her favorite lipstick color.

Collectively, the paintings present a commentary about today’s fast-paced, multimedia-obsessed society: “I feel that collage is very relevant today in our world of imagery bombardment, sampling, recycling and appropriation,” Renshaw says.


Allison Renshaw: Better than Candy

  • Where: Mirus Gallery, 540 Howard St., third floor, S.F.
  • When: 10 a.m. to 6 p.m. Tuesdays-Saturdays; closes April 6
  • Admission: Free
  • Contact: (415) 543-3440,
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