This month in Los Angeles, Mexico-based artist Alma Allen’s fourth solo exhibition with Blum & Poe marks a continuation of the artist’s work in intense, gesturally-oriented sculpture and meticulously carved and cast bronzes, here exhibited for the first time as a series of wall-hanging works.
Allen’s pieces draw heavily from the body and its traces of movement over the surface. Works ebb and flow in both their shape and color, with reflective surfaces in a high-polish shine or patinas of a painterly soft black. Like rushing water, these sculptures spill out from their station on the wall, reaching toward the viewer, then recoiling back. Calling to mind the peaks and valleys of landscape and body, they offer both a muscular materiality and fluid sense of the expanded experiential plane. Centered amongst the bronzes is a single stone sculpture carved into shiny pleats from a local marble, revealing hues of rose, milk, and umber. Whimsical in form, oblong like a pickle or an eggplant, the soft shape of the work belies its notable weight, a suggestive joke within an abstract charge.
The landscapes and languages of Allen’s new residence in Tepoztlán, where he relocated to in 2017 takes a major undertone in these works. Taking on the appearance of scrapped metal or worn, discarded objects in some cases, and in others the gleaming light of the Mexican landscape, the pieces pull new intersections of material and environment into dialogue. Allen’s proximity to Mexican stone quarries permits him to work directly not only in the carving but the selection of material. Along with his bronze foundry, Allen’s long dedication to making his work within his own studio has expanded craft notions of the handmade and cemented his reputation as a modern steward of classical sculptural techniques. This exhibition captures a recent chapter and takes it to its natural pinnacle—as Allen continues his exploration of symbolism and existential volatility in intricate forms.
The show closes February 25th.
– C. Rhinehart
Alma Allen at Blum & Poe [Exhibition Site]