Alma Allen’s biomorphic sculptures have minds of their own
In a bold takeover of Kasmin’s gallery and sculpture garden in New York, American artist Alma Allen introduces his latest series of curious creatures in bronze
If you didn’t know they were rendered in static bronze, you might be mistaken for thinking that Alma Allen’s sculptures were alive. Imbued with organic, surreal and creature-like characteristics, they appear to be growing or evolving; blink and you might find them somewhere else.
Allen’s biomorphic sculptures can currently be found both indoors and outdoors at Kasmin, New York. In the gallery’s 514 West 28th Street location, Allen is presenting more than 20 small-scale bronzes. Hyper-polished almost to the point of liquidity, these works are both lifeforms in their own right and proposals for future large-scale works. Atop Kasmin’s elevated and newly rewilded urban garden, the artist’s monumental outdoor sculptures can be experienced by all those who walk the adjacent New York High Line.
Allen’s deep affinity with the natural world stems from a childhood spent in Utah, where proximity to the desert allowed him the chance to roam, whittle wood, and hand-carve stones that he stumbled upon. ‘The sculptures are often in the act of doing something: they are going away, or leaving, or interacting with something invisible,’ Allen has previously said. ‘Even though they seem static as objects, they are not static in my mind. In my mind, they are part of a much larger universe. They are interacting with each other as well, with works I made 20 years ago.’
Allen begins his process by instinctively hand-sculpting intimately scaled model clay or wax forms. It’s a gradual emergence as the artist works and reworks until each has a life of its own. The artist casts and finishes the sculptures at his own foundry, on site at his studio in the hills of Tepoztlán, Mexico.
The forms and shapes of Allen’s work are only half the story; a great deal exists on the surface. The artist’s expressive and tactile finishes involve welding smaller pieces together, brazing, polishing, and developing chemical patinas until surfaces almost resemble paintings, or even rippling landscapes.
Kasmin is in the process of imagining new ways to bring Allen’s sculpture to the public. The gallery is partnering with Membit, an augmented reality platform to create an ‘art anywhere’ experience. Through this, users are able to introduce a 3D image of one of Allen’s sculptures into their own environments, whether at home, a local wilderness, or in a public space.
Here, small-scale meets monumental, exhibiting the versatility and ambition of Allen’s work. Whether occupying the clean white walls of the gallery or reaching for the skyline in Kasmin’s urban garden, Allen’s sculptures feel very much at home. §