1 of 3 >
Simon Magus, 2007-8,
gouache & collage on paper, 40 x 27 cm each.
an apocryphal sorcerer styled by early Christian apologists as the 'father
of all heresies'. After beguiling the population of Rome with an impressive
display of magic, Simon is said to have fallen to his death as he
'flew' over the Forum in Rome before the Emperor Nero, following the earnest
prayers of SS Peter and Paul.
The myth of Simon Magus exerts influence, however, beyond Christian apocrypha,
with Simonianism [the cult associated with Simon Magus] playing a significant
role in the origins of the western Gnostic tradition. Furthermore Simon Magus is
considered one of the templates for the figure of Faust. Art historically,
the magician was conventionally depicted as a defeated figure tumbling
earthward – The Fall of Simon Magus - yet other compelling elements
of his story remain unrepresented icongraphically: his ability to walk
through mountains, cause dogs to speak, and turn rocks into bread, or
grow a disguising beard at will. In a series of works on paper made during
a period of residence in Rome, Allen draws on the fractured nature of
the literary sources associated with this apocryphal figure.
Allen was the Arts Council England Helen Chadwick Fellow at Oxford University
and the British School at Rome 2007-8 >