Blum & Poe in Culver City opened its newest exhibition of Alma Allen’s work last night. Allen’s elegant biomorphic forms in wood and stone filled the spacious galleries like toadstools and lava rocks, creating a kind of fantastical garden–both intimate and vast.
From the exhibition statement:
“Constructed primarily in stone, wood, and bronze, Allen’s mid- and large-scale sculptures had never been publicly shown before their inclusion and wider discovery in the 2014 Whitney Biennial. A teenage runaway without a high school degree, the self-taught artist began an initial period of intense hand carving using salvaged materials while often homeless. Demonstrating an attunement with imbalance and precariousness, Allen’s sculptural forms are a marked departure from iconic stone carvers Constantin Brancusi and Isamu Noguchi, to whom his untrained sensitivity for shape and material have been compared. Recurring forms in Allen’s work take a cue from quantum particles and body organs and make indirect associations to psychological pain and wonder.
Many of Allen’s new sculptures, made of marble, travertine, and Claro walnut, weigh several tons. Despite their solidity, the works appear to undulate and vibrate, as if they are about to be sucked in or pushed out by some external force to the point of dissipation. In a series of bronze sculptures, the edges of an unknown trajectory are revealed, as tensive and fluid as the expanding universe. Presented in groupings and as individual forms, Allen’s sculptures arrive out of inherent chaos and chance provided by nature, as well as the precision of technological operation and mastery, all the while suggesting a range of anthropomorphic and visceral associations”