Contemporary Art (2) – David Altmejd


David Altmejd (b. 1974 Montreal) is a Canadian artist – a sculptor/installation artist – who shares his work-place between Montreal and London. Since graduating with his MFA (2001), he has taken part in many high profile group shows at important spaces as impressive as Artists Space and Deitch Projects, both in New York City. In 2007, he was Canada’s officially selected national artist for the Venice Biennale at the Canadian Pavilion, curated by Louise Déry. Altmejd is represented in New York City by Andrea Rosen Gallery and Stuart Shave/Modern Art, London.


Altmejd’s grandiosely-scaled sculptures and installations are like the Hitchcock’s celluloid narrative and the High Baroque poems embodied: they’re monstrous, formless, excessive, bizarre, creepy, impossible – they seem to be hanged on a very thin line of the common sense, the postmodern ‘hybrid-werewolf’ aesthetics and the boundaries of the laws of physics.

They have grown out of the artist’s existential need to create ‘huge, super-intense objects in this world’ (Altmejd in one of the interviews) that would work as a shock therapy – I do exist! Using random, both fairly grotesque and quite ‘common’ materials, such as decapitated werewolf heads (for which he ‘earned’ the ‘werewolf man’ nickname), stained Calvin Klein underwear, faux hair, towers made of mirrors, plastic flowers, electronic and steel elements etc. he awakes the fairy-tales, mythology and horror-movies most atrocious, deadly ‘aliens’ and ‘beasts’ that would keep us awake in beds in childhood and sinisterly amused throughout our entire, adult life.

Altmejd’s purposefully audacious propositions are bizarrely seductive and irrationally convincing; they possess the energy and dark charisma, which provokes mind-teasing dilemma like: why, generally speaking, do we find those beastly incarnations so alluring (just think about the evergreen pop-cults of Dracula, Alien – series or Hannibal‘s story), why do those monsters keep coming back through ages in different forms/concepts? Is it maybe that we need them to be more ‘human’, or – perhaps they do us a favour of symbolizing and abstracting those of our ‘persona’ that our conscious, sensible mind would have never admitted to be existing in the first place…?



About kasia

Born in Poland. Lives in Ireland, Cork. Visual artist. View all posts by kasia

5 responses to “Contemporary Art (2) – David Altmejd

  • Hans

    I actually never saw good works from Canada…, I am sure they are, but not this ! ;-=0

  • skonieczna

    Hi Hans,
    I’m so flattered to have your voice on my page… You don’t like it? C’mon – have you ever seen the ancient language of the sculpture (the poses, the scale, the subject) being employed in such a gutsy way? What I like the most is their ‘liminality’ (the concept I’m preoccupied with for some time) – you cannot help wondering what is that force that keeps them in one piece. They ‘crawl’ into space in all the directions…brrr…
    Have you heard about Kristine Moran, the painter? I’m going to devote her one post soon…

  • Hans

    Hi Katarzyna, I never of course saw the originals, but always trust my first impression, that was negative… a kind of similiar I could never get used to Jeff Walls works, and also not to the Chapmen- bros. In opposite to these, I really adore the Meese sculptures, in case you know probably:

    I have a look on Moran, never heard yet. I am glad you post your brilliant thoughts, so few people who care on art anyway. Not to forget, I think you’ll like this:

  • skonieczna

    Thanks for the links, they are both great.
    Those sculptures by Meese are far more ‘stable-looking’, in a sense they are quite traditional at the first overview (fetish, folk art-like), yet I like their energy, their imperfections, which are grossly understated (comparing to Altmejd’s work), which has its own appeal. Thanks again. See you again here and on your site-s as well.

  • Hans

    How are you Katarzyna ?

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