Invitations to be fascinated by complexity, David Altmejd’s sculptures are packed with transformative energy and microscopic detail. Severed werewolf heads crystallise into jewel-like forms, dancers sprout plaster hands and seem to shape themselves, swarms of flying bananas advance through imagined worlds created in plexiglass. “I am interested in the object being alive and being able to develop its own intelligence and generate meaning”, explains the artist.
Born in Montreal, Altmejd studied at the University of Quebec before completing an MFA at Columbia University, New York in 2001. His art spans different families of works: heads, standing figures, giants, transparent boxes containing networks of threads, and platform architectural pieces. Materials including hair, mirrors, crystals and casts of fruit are used in unexpected ways and to grotesquely seductive effect. To Altmejd, “an object starts to exist when it contains a contrast, when it contains tension.” The human body is a major source of inspiration for Altmejd, along with the capacity of objects to transform or regenerate. In his works, mirrors multiply space and accumulated details offer glimpses of infinity.
Altmejd’s work featured in the Istanbul Biennial (2003) and Whitney Biennial (2004); in 2007 he represented Canada at the Venice Biennale. Since 1998 he has presented over 30 solo exhibitions, including Flux, a major survey shown at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, MUDAM Luxembourg and the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal.
In 2009 he received the National Gallery of Canada’s Sobey Art Award and in 2015, the Ordre des arts et des lettres du Québec Award. Altmejd’s work is included in the permanent collections of the Art Gallery of Ontario; Guggenheim New York; Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles; Whitney Museum of American Art; and the National Gallery of Canada, among other prestigious institutions.