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Psychologically charged and compulsively expressive, Alma Allen’s works evoke a curiosity regarding the life of objects and the ways in which form and material can circumnavigate the utility of language. Known for his distillation of diverse organic references, the artist’s works simultaneously invite and resist classification.
The new exhibition of work spans two Kasmin gallery locations, with the presentation in the Kasmin Sculpture Garden constituting the artist’s first-ever exhibition dedicated to large-scale outdoor sculpture. The exhibition continues at 514 West 28th Street with over twenty small-scale bronzes—works that function as both articulations of the polymorphous nature of Allen’s sculptural alphabet and as proposals for future large-scale works. By contextualizing these works amongst one another, the presentation demonstrates the variety of embodied forms that find expression through the artist’s hand.
Often realized in stone, wood, or bronze—materials hand-selected from quarries or foraged from landscapes in the area surrounding his studio—the works emit a mysterious and ineffable life force. These abstracted, biomorphic shapes feel talismanic not only in their atmospheric qualities but also by way of their playfulness: bronze sculptures appear impossibly malleable, even liquid; wood and stone grain patterns are accented to highlight their material history. Whichever medium Allen chooses, the works’ final forms and their particular outcrops and eccentricities seem as though they have been conjured by the artist during their making, born of a wordless conversation between sculptor and object.
The artist’s hybrid process encompasses preindustrial methods of hand-shaping and carving alongside advanced 21st-century technology. After repeatedly reworking finger-scale clay maquettes, Allen will employ, as needed, a self-built robotic device for translation into large-scale works, finished with an impeccable softness that belies their weight and density. A bronze foundry, constructed in the artist’s studio in Tepoztlán, Mexico, enables Allen to complete works onsite. This instinctive shaping of resistant material draws upon both the process-based conceits of Surrealist automatism and the formal inventiveness of Constantin Brancusi and Samuel Beckett.