Modern Art


16.10.08 – 15.11.2008

Stuart Shave/​Modern Art is pleased to present an exhibition of new works by Canadian artist David Altmejd, in his second solo show with the gallery. 

Having emerged as the most exciting and talked-about artist at the Venice Biennale in 2007, Altmejd’s new show extends his fascination with myth and the fantastical, featuring sculptures of the human form fabricated from a fusion of organic materials such as taxidermy, and hard, reflective surfaces including mirrors. The fragmentation and expansion made possible by Altmejd’s elaborate use of reflection will create a seductive and doubling environment, as his fantastical figures inhabit the gallery space. 

The significance of mirroring, reflection and conduction is extended by Altmejd’s broader palette, which includes a combination of materials that conduct and imply the emission and circulation of energy. Crystals and mirrors sit alongside delicate gold chains that weave around large-scale sculptures, carrying and distributing energy. This flow of energy is central to Altmejd’s work, and is rooted in the artist’s own homespun folklore surrounding the myth of the werewolf. Altmejd believes that the release of energy at the exact point of a werewolf’s decapitation gives the possibility of transformation and growth. These often large-scale works are not however transfixed by death but at the moment immediately following, where the decaying body is energised with intense potentiality. For Altmejd there is an enjoyment in the tension between opposing forces and his interpretations of architectural styles alongside the decadence of the baroque interior, that pull stylistically conflicting aesthetics together to create an environment of highly charged contrasts. 

Beneath the veneer of decadence, Altmejd consciously leaves evidence of construction, giving direct access to the artist’s process-led approach to art. It is in the intricate layering of visual and physical production qualities that Altmejd achieves beauty as well as vulnerability. The sculptures have focus points of intensity and detail that rise and fall across the constructed levels, which describe intricate narratives within their own structure. Organic clusters of mirrors cut into crystal-like forms and grow from points of energetic rupture, punctuating the pastel tones of the carefully placed architectural elements that under spotlight take on the expression of retail display furniture, and combine to compose choreographed moments in the delicately formed language used by Altmejd to explore the energy within opposition. 

David Altmejd (b. 1974 in Montreal) lives and works in New York. He has shown widely in America, Canada and Europe. In 2004, he participated in the Whitney Biennial where his use of werewolf heads and architecturally complex platform-based installations received much international recognition. Altmejd represented Canada at the 52nd Venice Biennale (2007) with his largest installation work to date, The Index’, which will be reconfigured for the reopening of the Art Gallery of Ontario, redesigned by Frank Gehry, on 14 November 2008

Altmejd is also currently presenting a major new installation at Tate Liverpool as part of the 2008 Liverpool Biennial. His solo presentation at the Gallery Met of the Metropolitan Opera House in New York will run concurrently to his exhibition at Stuart Shave/​Modern Art.