Laing was born in Pretoria in 1990 where he obtained a BA Fine Art from UP. After completing his studies, he spent 2 months in residency at the Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris, and moved to Johannesburg on his return to join the team at the Workhorse Bronze Foundry in Marshalltown. A year and a half later, with the skills learned from making sculptures for artists including Louis Olivier, William Kentridge, Wilma Cruise and Senzo Shabangu Laing moved into extended residency at the Nirox Sculpture park where he is currently the studio manager at 58makersplace. Here Laing works with international and local residents of the sculpture park and works on his own art.
Laing regularly participates in exhibitions around South Africa. He has work in a number of prominent private collections, and has completed several corporate sculptural commissions. In 2015 and 2016 Laing was selected for the top 100 exhibition of the Barclays l’Atelier, and he was awarded the new media prize at the Thami Mnyele fine art competition in 2012.
In his work Laing explores how narrative, play and fantasy are able to impact his reality, especially pertaining to issues that seem to have no logical solution. He works in an absurdist mode, incorporating a modern machine aesthetic into his work alongside ‘primitive’ forms. Using fine wood-working techniques Laing constructs ‘machines’ from a combination of indigenous and exotic woods alongside materials and found objects chosen for their aesthetic, practical and sensual appeal.
Laing is a director of Found Collective, an NPO focussed on up-lifting Tshwane-based artists by creating opportunities for creative individuals in the region. Found Collective was launched in 2016 and has curated pop-up art exhibitions in Pretoria and Johannesburg and at Aardklop 2016 in Potchefstroom.
Allen Laing – Issue 4