Modern allegorism

Modern allegorism is a school of fine art in which the artist uses contemporary elements in an allegorical style to communicate a positive and uplifting message to the viewer. Modern Allegory is an original and unique style of art founded and created by G. Tarnowski. It uses everyday elements and animals as symbols we all can identify with, expressed in a whimsical, paradoxical and/or inspirational manner to produce a positive thought provoking message of encouragement, faith and hope.

The term was first used in print in a book published in 2007 titled Tarnowski: Modern Allegories about the work of artist Glen Tarnowski. Tarnowski coined the term to describe artwork that communicated to a modern world in the same way that Renaissance artists communicated values, ethics and morality to the largely illiterate population of the time.

As a literary device, an allegory is a metaphor whose vehicle may be a character, place or event, representing real-world issues and occurrences. Allegory (in the sense of the practice and use of allegorical devices and works) has occurred widely throughout history in all forms of art, largely because it can readily illustrate or convey complex ideas and concepts in ways that are comprehensible or striking to its viewers, readers, or listeners.

Allegory in art is when the subject of the artwork, or the various elements that form the composition, is used to symbolize a deeper moral or spiritual meaning such as life, death, love, virtue, justice etc.

Allegory has been used widely throughout the histories of all forms of art; a major reason for this is its immense power to illustrate complex ideas and concepts in ways that are easily digestible and tangible to its viewers, readers, or listeners.

Writers or speakers typically use allegories as literary devices or as rhetorical devices that convey (semi-)hidden or complex meanings through symbolic figures, actions, imagery, or events, which together create the moral, spiritual, or political meaning the author wishes to convey.

Since meaningful stories are nearly always applicable to larger issues, allegories may be read into many stories which the author may not have recognised. This is allegoresis, or the act of reading a story as an allegory.

In relation to modern art, allegory is when one narrative might mean another, something that was first proposed in Craig Owen’s book The Allegorical Impulse: Toward a Theory of Postmodernism. An example of this use of allegory would be Sarah Lucas’s Two Fried Eggs and a Kebab 1992 in which food is a signifier of sexual politics. Owens argues that artists who use allegory are revealing how objects can hold not one, but many meanings.

The three subgenres of Modern Allegorism include whimsical, inspirational/spiritual, and paradoxical. These subgenres describe the mechanism through which the artist conveys the message. Whimsical modern allegories use humor in a non-critical fashion to encourage the viewer to question their own perspectives and behavior. Inspirational/spiritual modern allegories attempt to inspire the viewer to believe in their own abilities and trust their innate gifts. Paradoxical modern allegories position common elements in ways that are contrary to the viewer’s expectation in order to encourage the viewer to evaluate the commonplace and see their own preconceptions in a new light.