Cape Town contemporary artist Caro Allum has specialised in abstract works for the past 17 years. Her powerful works are characterised by exceptional skill in her mastery of the alchemy of paint and various other materials.
As she harnesses and often unleashes forces of nature, Caro uses gravity, chemical reaction and evaporation as allies. When handling the syrupy paints she spills, heaves, rubs, sands back, dilutes and drips. Layer upon layer of shear and translucent earthy glazes create an ambiguity of depth and floating form, which tilt at the unpredictable and surprising beauty of nature.
She explores and reveals the weathering effects of exposure and time. Her work vibrates with constant change of the cyclical processes of Life: creation, growth, weathering, erosion, repair, decay and rebirth. A grounding in Expressionism is charged with energy, emotion and life experiences.
“My creative process sometimes borders on chaos,” says Caro. “It often suprises me. I see it and say: ‘Wow! Where did that come from? While I work, I morph in a state of flow, and what emerges seems to take on a life of its own. I work on the canvas, but it also works on me, and results in a discovery of something bigger than both of us.
“Rehearsal is important, but as it happens, it can take on a life of its own.”
Caro studied at the Frank Joubert Art Centre, where she won the South African Painting award for young artists. Her teacher there, Dr. Brian Johnson, encouraged her affinity with abstraction. She then attended The Ruth Prowse School of Art and Design and graduated in fine art in 1997. Erik Laubscher (1927 – 2014), founder and director of the school for 25 years, who famously was turned down by the University of Cape Town because he “could not draw” and one of whose abstract paintings was the first ever to fetch more than R1 million on auction while the artist was still alive, had a huge influence on Allum’s path ahead as an abstract artist.
Caro’s works have been sold to large corporates and various art investors both local and abroad. Her work hangs, or has been sold from The CAMM Collective in Cape Town, Roche Bobois in Cape Town, Inspire Me Gallery in Dubai, The Space in New York, The Avital Lang Gallery, as well as locally The Hout Bay Gallery, The Gallery on the Bay, and various online galleries such as Saatchi Art.
Established fellow artist Andre Stead says of her work: “Caro uses diverse and unorthodox materials in her exploration of the alchemy of substances. The way that materials react with one another during the application ultimately becomes an expression of the cause and effect that drives the alchemy of life.
“Her adventurous use of materials forges a unique style that expresses her positive and uplifting perspective.”
The Founder and Director of Willowlamp Adam Hoets says: “Her works evoke a powerful sense of abstract form and are characterized by exceptional skill in her mastery of the alchemy of paint.’
Artist and sculptor Wilma Cruise says of Caro’s work: “Like the best of abstract art, Allum’s canvasses suck the viewer into a space of ineffable emotion. This is an artist that it behoves one to watch.”