David Altmejd talks about the work The Flux and the Puddle
Uncrating the work
Assembling the work
With The Flux and the Puddle, it’s the second time I’ve made a piece in which I want to revisit everything I’ve ever made as a sculptor.
When I started to work on the piece, the idea was to build a gigantic Plexiglas box and use it as a stage for different characters from different periods of my work. I wanted to combine my early werewolves, some birdmen, and some recent bodybuilders, for example, and build a sort of operatic drama. I didn’t know what shape it would take, but I imagined war and sex. As I worked on the sculpture, everything in it became more and more fragmented and abstract. What interested me at this point was movement and flux, hence the title The Flux and the Puddle.
Plexiglas, quartz, polystyrene, polyurethane foam, epoxy clay, epoxy gel, resin, synthetic hair, clothing, leather shoes, thread, mirror, plaster, acrylic paint, latex paint, metal wire, glass eyes, sequins, ceramic, synthetic flowers, synthetic branches, glue, gold, domestic goose feathers (Anser anser domesticus), steel, coconuts, aqua resin, burlap, Sharpie ink, wood, coffee grounds, lighting system including fluorescent lights
Collection Giverny Capital
Long-term loan to the Musée national des beaux-arts du Québec
When I started making the sculpture, my idea was to build a Plexiglas structure, a sort of Plexiglas box that would be as big as possible, as large as possible in my studio, so that I would have the possibility of integrating everything I’ve done as a sculptor since the beginning. So everything is inside of it, all the characters: the werewolves, the bird men, the bodybuilders. All the materials: crystals, resin, plaster, mirror, and all the colours are there, all the ideas, everything I’ve ever done as a sculptor is in there. The piece itself becomes a … it’s almost a survey piece, a sort of index of everything I’ve ever done. I thought it would be very interesting in this show for it to be the last piece because it becomes a kind of condensation of everything you’ve seen in the show. At the beginning when I started working on the piece, my idea was to integrate all these characters that had started existing in my practice but at different moments: I explored the werewolves maybe 15 years ago, and the bird men 7 years ago, but they never cohabited. So I saw this as a project that would become a sort of operatic drama, or dramatic opera, I don’t know how to say. I saw it as a stage for this crazy drama with different characters that would start engaging in wars, and you know, everything. But it ended up, as I started placing things, everything started becoming fragmented and very light and floating. So it became less about the representation of a specific drama, and more … everything became very abstract and fragmented and all over. And what I became very interested, mostly interested in, was the representation of movement. I became obsessed with creating specific movements, curves, cycles, all throughout the piece. You can see it, it’s pretty obvious.
My work, they think – because it’s so intricate and it’s so complex and designed, you know – that I must work with a lot of sketches. But I never use sketches because actually, if I was trying to pre-plan everything, it would be impossible to re-create in three dimensions. Because the sketches would have to be so complex, and they would probably have to be ten thousand pages, so I improvise. Everything is built organically, one detail after the other, and there are no sketches.