Allen Laing

Stage 1 Fixation Fixer

Jacaranda, Zimbabwean Teak, Found Wood and Mixed Media on Plaster Bust and Painted wooden Plinth


R 25 000

Self Loathing Accumulator

Jacaranda, Birch, Zimbabwe Teak and Mixed Media on Plaster Bust and Painted wooden Plinth


R 28 000

Fruity Facade

Peach, Mulberry, Poplar and Oak on Plaster Bust and Painted wooden Plinth


R 30 000

Safe Space Lignin Lens

Brazilian Ironwood, Merbau, White Oak, Mulberry

1800x520x700 max including plinth

R41 000


Karee, Oregon Pine, Bauhinia, Brazilian Ironwood, Merbau, White Oak, Mulberry


including plinth

R45 000

Mind Blowing Selfie Sword (you won't believe number three!)

Genuine Yellowwood, Merbau, Kiaat, Karee


including plinth

R39 000


London plane, Genuine Yellowwood, Brazilian Ironwood, Olive, Merbau, Purple Heart


including plinth

R49 000

Self Portrait as Orang-Utang Mask

Kiaat and Albizia


including plinth

R25 000

False-Front Peep-Through Boards

Brazilian Ironwood, Merbau, White Oak, Purple Heart, Kiaat, Eucalyptus, Cypress, Jacaranda, Cedar, Karee, Camphor


(No Plinth)

R35 000


Artist Biography

A Neanderthal in a frightening new world knows that wood can solve all of his problems. The man makes magic medicine masks and is well on his way to becoming the perfect person.


Laing is a multi-disciplinary, award-winning artist who blends performance, video and traditional woodworking techniques in his practice. Laing, who holds a Master’s of Fine Art, has been on residency in Paris and New York, at the Cite Internationale des Arts and as an Ampersand Foundation Fellow, respectively. He has lived and worked in inner city Johannesburg, and at the Nirox Foundation Sculpture Park, where he spent an extended period in residence, facilitating the work of international residents. He is currently based in Pretoria where he shares a studio space with Angus Taylor, Beth Armstrong, Heidi Fourie and Rina Stutzer.

Laing’s works are in several prominent South African collections, including the Wits Art Museum permanent collection, and the Jack Ginsberg Centre for Book Arts.

Artist’s statement

Being part of the Capitalist ‘rational’ global Western society in general, and being a white South African in particular, I experience a lack or loss of metaphysical/mystical/spiritual elements in my life and society. Our world has become so focussed on material progress, empirical discovery, luxury and quick entertainment (none of which are inherently bad) that, taken together, these tendencies create a world that feels superficial or meaningless, and seems to be lacking ‘something more’ that we humans have a need for, and have lost.

I believe it would be dishonest of me to adopt some existing belief or metaphysics just to satisfy my need as described above, if I did not have a true and deep conviction of the truths contained in it. For this reason I seek instead, through my art, to discover what I imagine that I have lost, or once had; especially as child when fantasy, hope and possibility were still alive.

Important elements in my work include narrative, fantasy, fiction, play and absurdity which I use to address serious issues in ways that do not overburden my emotional resources and cause me to become more depressed by them. Playfulness negates some of the psychological weight of issues in life and society, and makes them more malleable, allowing one to take them apart without causing oneself to be as negatively affected by them. Play also allows one to imagine possibilities that appear to lie outside of the realm of possibility. By playing at problem solving I believe that one can make real progress mentally and emotionally in ways that one would not have thought of in rational ways.

Viewers of my work often comment on the humour and apparent light-heartedness that is present in my art as devices that draw them into the work. They are then surprised to find a layer of serious issues lies below the frivolous surface, and tell me that their enjoyment of the work affords them a different kind of awareness about the issues at hand, without becoming depressed by them. I aim to communicate to the ‘adult’ world at large and to convince them that play and fantasy are important, yet long neglected aspects of our human existence, and that we need to incorporate them quite radically into our daily lives.

Although the content of my work bears a dichotomy of playfulness/seriousness, the materials and techniques that I use are rooted in a love for wood and all its characteristics, and a desire to form and join it in the most excellent and beautiful ways that I can. I love the smell, texture, grain, bark, workability and characteristics of every different species that I work with, and even the idiosyncrasies of every individual tree, which has grown under unique circumstances. My physical practice thus entails me finding ways to reconcile living wood with a concept that I am trying to communicate.

In my performances I want to engage people, give scale and context to my work, and also really understand what I’m trying to communicate on an intensely physical level. My costumes and contraptions are often uncomfortable and difficult to use, and the entire performance is akin to a kind of ascetic ritual. I need to focus and push through the discomfort, in some sense prove my conviction through my struggles. On a simpler level, I enjoy jerking people out of their comfort zones and disrupting their expectations when they see in performing in public.

In summary, my work is about my enjoyment of everything that is wood, and using this enjoyment to navigate tough issues in my life and the society around me.

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Conceptual Contemporary Art Gallery

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