David Altmejd – Flux: from Sarah to The Flux and the Puddle
The Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal is proud to host the brilliant homecoming of David Altmejd, who is already well known from the US to Europe. Flux, a major survey exhibition, features some thirty works produced over the last fifteen years by this Montréal-born sculptor currently based in New York. The show also includes a site-specific mural and another new work, fresh out of the artist’s New York City studio.
Considered one of today’s most talented artists on the international scene, Altmejd creates an organic yet phantasmagorical world that combines various forces of decay and regeneration in a fantastical life cycle. In describing his work, he says “a perpetual tension must be there, between the attractive and the repellent, like the two poles necessary to maintain vital force.”
Sarah Altmejd, produced in 2003 when the artist was completing his studies in New York, opens the exhibition and gives us insight into the sculptor’s process as a whole. This bust of his sister (the person he loves the most in the world, he says), viewed from behind, reveals long hair tied back by a blue elastic, and a right ear sporting a ring with a star in the middle. From the front, the sculpture shows, where the face should be, an empty space adorned with blue, silver and coral glitter. The artist sees this black hole, which could be fearsome, as a metaphor for the beginning of everything, the Big Bang that gives rise to life. This will be seen again in different forms in many of the artist’s creations.
The Flux and the Puddle, 2014, a key work in the show and the inspiration behind its title, brilliantly sums up–in a mini-retrospective and a reflection of his studio/laboratory–the main motifs and subjects that fill Altmejd’s unique and powerful imagination. In a gigantic Plexiglas box, we see the organized chaos of mythical creatures (werewolf, birdman), animals, insects and plants that form his world. The artist produced them with incomparable skill and inventiveness, using a host of different synthetic and natural materials (epoxy clay, resin, quartz, sequins, mirror, hair, feathers, coconuts, coffee grounds, etc.). The smashed mirror also allows him to offer multiple points of view and present a visceral, structural spectacle that could resemble a painting fragmented in space.
Long interested in biology and life’s metamorphoses, Altmejd possesses an endless curiosity that combines with his fascination with the world of dreams and nightmares. For example, his figures (such as bodybuilders) seem to create themselves with their own hands, to transform themselves by themselves. He also says: “My dream experience is what enables me to understand the importance of inner space.” And it is these exploded inner spaces, that look rather like all kinds of ecosystems, that he presents in the MAC exhibition.
Born in Montréal in 1974, David Altmejd lives and works in New York. He represented Canada at the 52nd Venice Biennale in 2007 and won the Sobey Art Award in 2009. He also took part in the 8th Istanbul Biennial in 2003, New York’s Whitney Biennial in 2004 and the first Québec Triennial at the MAC in 2008. His work may be found in numerous collections in Canada, the United States, France and Luxembourg. In 2015, he was made a companion of the Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec.
The Montréal presentation of David Altmejd – Flux was organized by MAC Collection curator Josée Bélisle.
The exhibition is accompanied by an abundantly illustrated catalogue, co-published with Paris Musées. The publication includes a piece entitled L’espace intérieur, a condensed version of two conversations between David Altmejd, Robert Vifian and François Michaud, as well as Le Codex Altmejd, an article by Louise Déry. The catalogue may be purchased for $54.95 at the MAC.
To enrich the visitor’s experience, the MAC has created a microsite highlighting ten works, including Sarah Altmejd and The Flux and the Puddle. The microsite is accessible via the Musée’s website at flux.macm.org
. The comments on the works were recorded by the artist himself.
Organization and thanks
The David Altmejd – Flux exhibition was designed and organized by the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal in collaboration with the Musée d’art moderne de la Ville de Paris and Paris Musées.
The exhibition was presented in Paris from October 10, 2014, to February 1, 2015. Between Paris and Montréal, the MUDAM Luxembourg hosted a new version of the exhibition, reconfigured by the artist, from March 7 to May 31, 2015.
The Montréal presentation of Flux was made possible by support from The Brant Foundation Art Study Center and the Andrea Rosen Gallery, New York.