David Altmejd’s The Vessel at the AGA

On view from October 8 to January 29, 2017 at the Art Gallery of Alberta is the work of Montreal born artist David Altmejd titled The Vessel. Currently based in New York and London, Altmejd works primarily in large scale installations made of Plexiglas and a myriad of unusual materials such as string, crystals, sequins, clay, needles, head forms and fruit.

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Image: David Altmejd, The Vessel, 2011. National Gallery of Canada, Ottawa © David Altmejd. Photo © NGC

His interests range from the architecture of the mind and the natural world to crystalized werewolves; his structures are always compelling, detailed and extravagant. Altmejd creates tiny worlds within an elaborate environment of Plexiglas to explore the relationships between the interior and exterior, macro and micro, surface and depth and the grand and the modest.

The artist’s endless fascination with the infinite complexity of nature as a result of accidents, mutations and organic formations inspire how his installations, although inert, are full of potential movements in all directions. It as if there is an activation button somewhere in the work and once pressed, a kinetic maelstrom would ensue.

The vignettes of activity are contained and suspended like organs in the body or the psychological cavities of the mind; there are endless ways to get lost in the piece. Walk around the installation and explore where the materials take you; Altmejd always considers within his works the potential “source” of each of the movements and materials and how they will evolve and take different shape for each viewer.

The piece is meant to be seen up close and personal to impress upon the viewer the impossibility of seeing it all at once. Much like the suggestive boundless and radiating ebbs and flows of activity within The Vessel, there is no one way to read the work. Altmejd hopes that the work will inspire visitors to appreciate the nature of complexity, especially within the natural world, in all its rich, nuanced and unknowable forms. —Laura Busby

Art Gallery of Alberta, 2 Sir Winston Churchill Square, Edmonton. 780-422-6223. www.youraga.ca

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