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© Courtesy of the Artist and Xavier Hufkens
© Courtesy of the Artist and Xavier Hufkens
© Courtesy of the Artist and Xavier Hufkens

Rue Saint-Georges 6-8
1050 Brussel
February 14th, 2013 - March 20th, 2013
Opening: February 14th, 2013 6:00 PM - 9:00 PM

Center - Uptown
+32 (0)2 639 67 30
Tue-Sat 11-6
figurative, sculpture


Xavier Hufkens is pleased to announce David Altmejd’s third solo show at the gallery. The exhibition focuses  exclusively on a new group of figurative sculptures, which range from the life-sized to the giant. 

Although Altmejd’s figurative works are based on human forms, they are not intended to be representational. The  figures evolve, instead, out of the matter and technical processes used to create them. Each sculpture begins life  as a simple frame, upon which the artist painstakingly applies different components which include, amongst  others, hessian, polystyrene, chains, fur, crystals and casts of his hands or of exotic fruits. Working over the  surface and concentrating on creating resonant connections and juxtapositions between these diverse materials,  Altmejd slowly coaxes his semi-human, semi-anthropomorphic forms into being. With their elaborate surfaces  and visually complex arrangements, the sculptures demand detailed scrutiny but simultaneously deny the viewer  the opportunity to grasp the work in a single take. One of Altmejd’s primary aims is to create energy, which he  achieves by paying an obsessive, almost microscopic, attention to the details, materials, textures and contrasts in  his work. Originally trained as a biologist, the artist says of these figures: ‘The idea of creating a sculpture that is  too structurally and spatially complex to be grasped all at once comes from an interest in nature. The experience  of nature is an experience of details that results in the impression of something great.’ 

 The body as a ‘container’ and as a site for, and of, transformation — both literal and figurative — is a recurrent  theme in Altmejd’s oeuvre. Motivated by the invisible worlds that often exist just beneath the surface of things,  the artist reveals the hidden structures in his own works through negative spaces: gaps, holes, fissures and  crystal filled orifices are a recurring motif. The coconuts, which are a relatively new development, also relate  to the artist’s on-going exploration of both the inner and the outer constructions of physicality: ‘I think that  formally they relate to a lot of things in my work… it is like a seed, or an egg, or even a head. And there’s a space  inside… it’s reminiscent of a lot of forms in my work. It’s a way of creating humour… but there is also something  serious about them, almost creepy or alien.’ 

While the obviously figurative sculptures are persuasive, fully formed, forceful physical presences, Altmejd’s  mirrored works are quite different. The reflective surfaces define and destabilise, as well as multiply, the spaces  around them. As a result, the sculptures almost disappear into, or are camouflaged by, their surroundings. Says  Altmejd: ‘If you cover an object with mirrors, it becomes invisible, totally transparent seeming. But if you walk  around it, all of a sudden it takes shape, it becomes real. So a mirror-covered object is at once immaterial and  super-material, especially if it’s broken – then it becomes hyper-material. I like that tension between totally  transparent, non-existent and suddenly super-material, dangerous and sharp.’ 

David Altmejd (b. 1974, Montreal) obtained his master’s degree in fine art from Columbia University in New  York, where he currently lives and works. In 2007, aged thirty-two, he was the youngest artist to represent  Canada at the Venice Biennale (52 nd Venice Biennale). That same year, he had solo exhibitions at the Fundació La  Caixa Museum (Barcelona) and the Oakville Galleries, Gairloch Gardens, Ontario (the latter touring to Galerie  de l’UQAM in Montreal and the Illingworth Kerr Gallery at the Alberta College of Art & Design in Calgary).  Subsequent solo exhibitions include Gallery Met at the Metropolitan Opera House, New York (2008), Magasin  – Centre National d’Art Contemporain de Grenoble (2008), Les Abattoirs, Toulouse (2008), the Vanhaerents Art  Collection, Brussels (2010), Galerie de l’UQAM, Montreal (2011) and the Brant Foundation Art Study Center,  Greenwich, Connecticut (2011). Last year, David Altmejd unveiled his first public sculpture in bronze, The Eye,  which was commissioned by the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts.