He always has quite an impact. After Le Flux, the exhibition at the Museum of Modern Art in Paris and the MUDAM in Luxembourg, David Altmejd continues his European tour at the Xavier Hufkens gallery which is very keen to show him off. In L’air, the native of Quebec is displaying his younger works. They resonate with the same force and the same vitality that is so typical of Altmejd. Obviously, his sculpture work is a matter of energy. And duality.
Already as we come in, we discover a disconcerting work, down to the last detail. From looking at these two inverted heads, it is unclear whether the artist is depicting a man and a woman, yin and yang, a mutant creature or the strong bond that unites him with his sister Sarah. In any case, we recognise in that piece the artist’s fondness for biology, fantasy films and science fiction. A mixed feeling that is akin to repulsion stems from this hybrid creature. Is this a duality of identity or a metaphor for transformation that the artist often represents through his werewolves?
And then there are mirrors. With Matrix, David Altmejd loses us in an infinite reflective geometry, a visual field that escapes us. A glittering work that reflects the real space around it, and wonderfully manages to fragment things like a kaleidoscope. Through it, we get a glimpse of our other self. This fantastic temple also conjures up a mysterious other world reminiscent of Canadian Arctic winters and blizzards. It becomes weightless, almost invisible in its optical tricks. The crystals are symbols of transformation and renewal. Here, nothing is static either.
Like a demiurge or Pygmalion, the sculptor only exists through his hands. They speak, shape, fashion, scratch or powerfully immerse the plaster. In the white figures that Atmejd managed to imbue with a rare energy, the hands are a cast of the artist’s own hands. They are striking in their impact, the impression they leave on us, the fascinating way they seem to create shapes in a paradoxical tension between matter and creative pressure. The sculptor seems to want to raise the intensity rather than the fruit of their work. In order to achieve that, he draws inspiration from his distant precursors and each one of his immaculate – unfinished yet so expressive – figures, is somehow linked to classical statuary. The legendary unicorn, for example, which is a recurrent beast in Romanesque sculpture. The artist’s fascination for shaping matter, the dichotomy between life force and the vulnerability of our mortal coil.
Born in 1974 in Montreal, David Altmejd studied drawing and painting in the Visual Arts section of the University of Quebec. He graduated as a sculptor in 1998. He is also a graduate of Fine Arts from Columbia University. He represented Canada in 2007 at the Venice Biennale with the installation The Index and participated in the Biennials of the Whitney Museum in 2004 and Istanbul in 2003. In 2009 he was awarded the Sobey Award, the top prize in contemporary art in Canada. From 18 March, he placed his giants in the lobby of the Royal Museums of Fine Arts in Brussels. A great prospect!
Galerie Xavier Hufkens
6 rue Saint-Georges
Until 9 April
Tuesdays – Saturdays, from 11:00h to 18:00h