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Jon Allen

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Jon Allen

Jonathan Allen (born 1966) is a visual artist, writer, and magician based in London. His alter-ego "Tommy Angel", is a fictitious evangelist and magician satirizing the genre of Gospel Magic, who Allen portrays in a variety of media including performance, photography, video, and writing.


He received his MA from Chelsea College of Art in 1989 and was a Henry Moore Fellow at Sheffield Hallam University from 1991-1993.

Allen's work has appeared in many exhibitions including “Feint” at Deutsche Bank in New York, “The Float in the Sight of Things” at Ferens Art Gallery in Hull, “Mesmer” at temporarycontemporary in London, “Con Art” at Site Gallery in Sheffield, "Scarecrow" in Metzova Greece, and "Variety" at the De La Warr Pavilion Bexhill on Sea, UK, the first Singapore Biennale, "The Dictionary of War" in Berlin, and "Kalanag" at David Risley Gallery London.

In 2002, Allen instigated the international group show "Con Art" with American curator Helen Varola, and Carol Maund which explored art and conjuring’s shared principles of ‘cunning and conning’ through a gallery exhibition (including Mark Wallinger, Simon Patterson, Sarah Charlesworth, and others), a symposium (chaired by Susan Hiller), and a live performance event including, amongst others, Forced Entertainment, Ursula Martinez, and Tommy Angel.

Jonathan Allen writes widely on theatrical magic history and related themes for visual art journals including Contemporary, and Cabinet magazine, for which he guest-edited an issue dedicated to magic. His work as Tommy Angel was the subject of a feature article in the Las Vegas-published Magic (magazine) in February 2006. Allen is a member of The Magic Circle, the UK organisation for professional magicians.

Tommy Angel

Tommy Angel is the name of a fictional 'gospel magician' who features in Allen's photographic and performance work. Gospel Magic is a form of evangelical entertainment used by Christian believers, primarily within the USA, to communicate religious stories and ideas through the medium of performance magic. Tommy Angel, who has been described as 'Billy Graham meeting David Copperfield via Donald Rumsfeld', parodies this suggestive magic sub-genre.

Large black and white photographic images depicting Tommy Angel, were exhibited at the The De La Warr Pavilion, Bexhill on Sea, UK (2005), David Risely Gallery (2006), and Singapore Biennale (2006). Allen has performed the persona of Tommy Angel in a diverse contexts including cabaret venues, church halls, and art galleries, including the Hayward Gallery on the occasion of Eyes, Lies and Illusions, and in 2006 at Tate Britain, as well as the ZOO Art Fair.

A fake dollar bill bearing the face of Tommy Angel and various parodic evangelistic slogans was introduced into public circulation (via pickpockets using their skills in reverse) during the 1st Singapore Biennale in 2006.


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