Alma Allen - Not yet Titled (2021) & Not yet Titled (2021)
They do not represent any recognisable earthly forms. Even so, the sculptures of Alma Allen (b. Heber City, Utah, 1970, lives in Tepoztlán, Mexico) will make many visitors feel the urge to touch them. This has to do with the great tactility of the sculptures, which, although made of hard materials like wood, marble and bronze, nevertheless appear as soft as velvet and sometimes even tender-looking. In this respect, his work is related to the work of Constantin Brâncuşi and Henry Moore. But it is certainly also due to the energy given off by the sculptures, almost as if they are living creatures with their own unique expression. This idea – that objects have a life or, perhaps rather, a soul – fits well with Allen’s methods. Through a painstaking process of working and reworking, a form eventually emerges, as the result of a dialogue between the artist and the material.
The organic, biomorphic forms of Allen’s sculptures are simultaneously figurative and abstract, evoking associations with flora and fauna. The desert landscapes of the United States, where Allen grew up and lived for a long time, with their powerful prehistoric rock formations, are apparently an important source of inspiration for him. His early works were small-scale and all carved by hand. Later he also started using advanced 21st-century technology, including a homemade robotic system for larger works.
The black sculpture at De Oude Warande seems to be the head of an elephant. It prompts thoughts of Ganesh, the Hindu god with an elephant’s head, who clears obstacles. The other sculpture also has a powerful symbolic meaning, that of the totem, an object with spiritual energy, to which people feel strongly connected.
Allen, who is self-taught, broke into the international art world with his participation in the Whitney Biennial in 2014. Lustwarande has presented his work for the first time in the Netherlands.