Blum & Poe is pleased to present Mexico-based artist Alma Allen’s fourth solo exhibition with the gallery. This show coincides with Allen’s solo museum presentation at Anahuacalli Museum in Mexico City.
Alma Allen is an American-born sculptor known for his orchestration of arresting gestural immediacy and distinctive material engagement, meticulously carved and cast to draw attention back to the work itself. This presentation marks the debut of Allen’s wall-hanging bronze reliefs. 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.
In the adjacent garden stands a tall bronze among greenery—a visceral courtship of chaos, it twists in upon itself, both gleaming outwardly and withholding its innermost contents. Like a banyan tree, a bundle of twine, or the fibrous tissue that unites muscle with bone, the strands of this work seem to reflect objects from the natural world in a manner both familiar and infused with intimate notation. Its banded construction may very well reference the flowing lava produced by the eruption of Xitle, a volcano that destroyed Cuicuilco, one of the many pre-Hispanic cities that preceded Mexico City.
In preparation for both this and his upcoming museum presentation, Allen explored parallels in his work and in Diego Rivera’s approach to designing the Anahuacalli Museum, his final work. On Rivera’s vision for the pyramid-like building built over lava flow, the museum states that his “genius lay in his ability to recognize... a unique combination of environmental features that constitute an identity that is inseparable from location: rock, earth, breath, blood, the quality of light.” Throughout Allen’s multi-leveled practice, these same qualities are flooded with a psychological valence. Within the collision of elements in Allen’s work is rooted a distinct series of repeated, recognizable gestures that allow poetics, mythologies, and narratives to emerge within the timeless qualities of sculpture and material.
Relocating from Joshua Tree to Tepoztlán in 2017, Allen’s work has expanded into and absorbed his new environs, responding to the energetic forces near his studio. His proximity to Mexican stone quarries permits Allen 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 whose weight, balance, and presence reconcile transient physicalities and inner visions against the eonic span.
Alma Allen (b. 1970, Heber City, UT) currently lives and works in Tepoztlán, Mexico. Recent group exhibitions include Intervención/Intersección, curated by Su Wu, Rockefeller Center, New York, NY (2022); At The Luss House, The Gerald Luss House, Ossining, NY (2021); At The Noyes House, The Eliot Noyes House, New Canaan, CT (2020); Aldrich Contemporary Art Museum, Ridgefield, CT (2018); deSaisset Museum, Santa Clara, CA (2016); and 2014 Whitney Biennial, Whitney Museum of American Art, New York, NY (2014). In Conversation: Alma Allen & JB Blunk, a two-person exhibition that began at the Palm Springs Art Museum, Palm Springs, CA in February 2018, traveled to the Nevada Museum of Art, Reno in Spring 2019. A comprehensive monograph on the artist’s work was released by Rizzoli Electa in 2020.