Thursday, 7 November 2013

Elephant No. 66: Feature Artist Carlo Allion

Il Tapetto Magico by Carlo Allion
Image courtesy of Carlo Allion

I met Carlo a couple of weeks ago at an art exposition here in Ottawa, and loved his work on sight. Not only is his technique impeccable, but his subject matter and compositions are very appealing.

In addition to long-legged elephants, horses and camels, Carlo's work features recurring cameos by his little dog, along with whimsical touches such as hot-air balloons, motor scooters and boats. His work is right up my alley, and if I'd had a bit more wall space and a bit more money, at least one of his paintings would have come home with me that day.

My Turn, Dude by Carlo Allion
Image courtesy of Carlo Allion

When talking about his work, Carlo describes a "playful state of mind. I just do it and say, 'Why not have very long legs?' It was a natural evolution. I was painting a figurative Giacometti-inspired style of people and then I started incorporating animals, and it was a natural thing to make the animals fit to scale.  . . . I think you can read a lot of metaphors in it—like how fragile nature is, etc. To me, it is an abstract look of what I see. I don't want to necessarily represent things as they should be."

Colby the Explorer by Carlo Allion
Image courtesy of Carlo Allion
His current work combines the sculptural forms of his animal and human figures with finely detailed painting and a high-gloss resin coating that makes everything glow. His attenuated figures often stand in open or blasted landscapes, lending them a lonely look that is often alleviated by a playful feature such as a dog on an airborne scooter or a man floating by in a flying rowboat. One of my favourite of his non-elephant paintings features a goggled aviator in a Leonardo da Vinci-inspired flying machine.

Concerto d'amore #1 by Carlo Allion
Image courtesy of Carlo Allion

"Art is quite personal," says Carlo. "For many artists, creating becomes part of your life. It is like oxygen—you need art to breathe. If you don't create art, you are not a happy person. It doesn't matter how difficult it is; if you really have it in you, you'll find a way and keep creating."

Take Me for a Stroll by Carlo Allion
Image courtesy of Carlo Allion

Carlo is also an elephant-lover like many of us, and often sponsors an orphaned elephant at the David Sheldrick Wildlife Trust when he sells a painting. Gotta like that.

To see more of Carlo's wonderful work, visit his website here.

Lacivus Barrus by Carlo Allion
Image courtesy of Carlo Allion

Elephant Lore of the Day
Because so much of Carlo's work features his little Yorkshire terrier, today's elephant lore is about the friendship between a South Carolina elephant and a Labrador retriever.

Bubbles, a 30-year-old female African elephant, came to the United States about 20 years ago. Orphaned when her parents were killed for their tusks, Bubbles was one of the lucky ones. While many of her fellow orphans were euthanized due to a perceived lack of available care in Africa back then, Bubbles was flown to a new home in South Carolina.

Apparently Bella and Bubbles formed a strong bond right away, and now play together most of the day. Bella loves to chase tennis balls, so Bubbles has learned to pick up the ball in her trunk, tossing it for her furry friend. And when Bubbles wades into the water, ball in trunk, Bella will climb onto the elephant's back in an attempt to get at her favourite toy.

Bubbles then tosses the ball for Bella, and Bella jumps off to retrieve it. Swimming away from Bubbles with her prize, Bella seems to enjoy the fact that the elephant is in hot pursuit.


To read more, click here.

All photographs ©Barry Bland

To Support Elephant Welfare
Boon Lott's Elephant Sanctuary (Thailand)
Wildlife SOS (India) 
The Elephant Sanctuary (Tennessee)

David Shepherd Wildlife Foundation
Big Life Foundation

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