David Altmejd

David Altmejd, The Holes, 2008. Photograph by Alex Wolkowicz

David Altmejd, The Holes, 2008. Photograph by Alex Wolkowicz

David Altmejd, The Holes, 2008. Photograph by Alex Wolkowicz

David Altmejd, The Holes, 2008. Photograph by Alex Wolkowicz

David Altmejd, The Holes, 2008. Photograph by Alex Wolkowicz

Reflections, by their very nature, are metaphorical – the image of one thing transferred to another different form, but analogous to its source. A reflective surface, a mirror, say, exists simultaneously as the thing it reflects and as an object in its own right.

Using mirrors, David Altmejd (b. 1974, Montreal, Canada) has made reflections central to his work for a decade or more, at first incorporating mirrors as Modernist forms in miniature, like shrunken Robert Morrises that punctured fantastical, multi-platformed worlds, and most recently as a structural core. For his installation at the 2007 Venice Biennale the artist covered large sections of the inside of the predominantly glass-constructed Canadian pavilion in mirrored glass. Inside, The Giant 2 and The Index (both 2007) were thus positioned within an environment that existed in a permanent state of flux, subsuming and responding to each and all that encountered them.

Caught within a system of duality, Altmejds's methodically selected materials, reflective and otherwise, constantly shift between actual and illusory, fragmented and whole, present and absent, objective and subjective. For MADE UP the artist continued his long-standing preoccupation with myth, folklore and science fiction in The Holes – two vast giants that transformed the gallery into lair. Architectural, fragmented, violent, decorative, anthropomorphic and yet periodically, they dissolved into abstraction, they were cohesive forms rooted somewhere within popular imagination, yet represented so much more. The body of one was severed at the waist, its trailing innards spiralled into an abyss that's suggested in the title. Amidst the carnage, in contrast, life (and even after-life) burst through in the form of plants, a mirrored stairway, and quartz-like clusters that grew towards the sky.

Highly detailed, the bodies of the giants became multiple stage sets with meta-narratives running throughout. In a sense, the entire structure functioned as a mirror, reflecting bold, universal constructs and preoccupations – order, chaos, birth, death, destruction, life and renewal, love, horror, battle and rest. Altmejd sought to present a scene that was at once plausible and fantastical, creating exuberant worlds that stretched the imagination yet were somehow weirdly recognisable through legends from a remote past. Just as Gabriel García Márquez created a situation whereby a magic carpet flying past the living room window became merely another piece of street traffic, Altmejd offset the bizarre with the comfortably familiar in reflective rhythms that remained darkly suggestive.

David Altmejd at Liverpool Biennial 2008 

The Holes, 2008
Mixed media installation
Commissioned by Liverpool Biennial 2008
Exhibited at Tate Liverpool

Supported by

The Henry Moore Foundation
Canada House Arts Trust
Quebec Government Office London
Stuart Shave/Modern Art
Andrea Rosen Gallery