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Mendes Wood DM São Paulo
27/05 - 12/08 2023

Mendes Wood DM is proud to present Some Eyes, the first solo exhibition of the celebrated US artist and sculptor Alma Allen to take at the gallery’s Barra Funda space in São Paulo. Additionally to this being his first exhibition with the gallery in São Paulo, it is also the first solo presentation of his work in Brazil, and a much-awaited opportunity for South American audiences to engage with Allen’s practice.

Widely known for his dexterity in handling materials as disparate as bronze, wood and various types of marble sourced from all over the world, Allen has turned his focus for this exhibition on bronze and on parota wood, also known as the Elephant-ear tree, native to the tropical regions of the Americas. Furthermore, the exhibition showcases Allen’s recent interest in creating sculptural wall-pieces, rather than the free-standing floor sculptures
that he is perhaps best-known for.

Allen’s creative impetus for this series of works was put into motion during a recent trip to Egypt, where he was confronted with the country’s monumental artistic heritage and ancient culture. He found himself particularly drawn to the visual symbolism of the eyes and the moon, which are ubiquitous throughout ancient Egyptian art. The eye, a universally recognized symbol of intellectual perception, enjoys a broader formulation in Egyptian
culture: a pair of eyes, for example, would be painted on sarcophagi so the dead could see at the world outside. In Egyptian mythology, the moon is connected with Osiris, the god of the dead, and its phases are linked to the
cyclical rhythms of birth and death.

Parota wood, which the artist has already incorporated into his practice before, appears in larger, essentially circular works, drawing on gestures that evoke organic forms. Meanwhile, the works made of bronze seem to
mimic natural formations, archeological patterns, and evoke a mythological pantheon of references from as Egyptian murals to Pre-Columbian art. To a certain extent, the bronze reliefs in the exhibition are a continuation of

Allen’s work for his solo show at Museo Anahuacalli – a space designed by Diego Rivera as a “living” repository of primitive and modern artifacts – and further highlight the artist’s deep interest and engagement with ancient cultures. Allen’s forms are first made by hand in clay or wax models. They are shaped according to the artist’s desires and then put through a 3D scanning process. The final pieces are developed in his studio in Tepotzlán, Mexico, in which a robot helps to finalize the large-scale process – but prior to that, it is the artist’s hand that configures the relief, the formal arrangements, and the works’ sense of fluidity.

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