August 26, 2022 – November 27, 2022
In Wonderland, Kimball Art Center presents compelling contemporary sculptural and installation-based work by David Altmejd, Uta Bekaia, Yasue Maetake, and Catalina Ouyang that explores transformation, metamorphosis and regeneration through a reimagining of the human and animal form.
In enigmatic hybridized sculptures, each artist uses an array of metaphorically rich materials while blurring the distinction between interior and exterior, surface and structure, and representation and abstraction.
Beguiling in their visual complexity yet unnerving in their other-worldliness, their anthropomorphic works create a disconcerting dream-like landscape while also inviting reflection on the complex aspects of the contemporary condition.
David Altmejd (b. 1974, Canadian) explores the constitution and disintegration of the self, producing sculptures that expand the range of figurative representation and conjuring abstract regions beyond the realm of recognizability. His work is centered on the human form, which in Altmejd’s vision includes not only the body but also the mind, the imagination, and the soul, not to mention the ways the material world is perceived and felt through these channels. To this end, each of his works arises from an ongoing intuitive relationship with the large array of materials with which they are built, including clay, foam, mirror, quartz, resin, and both synthetic and human hair. Traditional processes like casting exist alongside idiosyncratic forms of bricolage; no two sculptures are alike, even when they seem to address related subjects. Altmejd approaches scale as a relative quantity, and over the course of his two-decade career, he has treated room-sized installations and intimate busts with the same levels of intensity and commitment. Cosmological in scope, his work reveals a world-making ethos across its surfaces and in its details, where countless moments of invention and curiosity reflect ever-unfolding mysteries of consciousness.
David Altmejd lives and works in Los Angeles. His work has been exhibited internationally, and was the subject of a major survey exhibition entitled Flux at the Musée d’Art Moderne de la Ville de Paris, France which travelled to the MUDAM in Luxembourg and the Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal, Canada (2014-15). In 2007, he represented Canada at the Venice Biennale.
Uta Bekaia (b. 1974, Georgian) engages multiple artistic mediums, creating wearable sculptures, performances, and videos, where the borders between the disciplines are blurred, and the cultural references are synthesized in his own, personalized vision. With the background in fashion and costume making in the beginning of his career, Bekaia transformed these mediums into the main means to approach the human body and fully emerge into performances. Inspired by ancient mythology, fairy tales, Italian Baroque, and Georgian Dada, Bekaia with his exuberant, sculptural costumes, reinvents and re-stages long lost, never-before-documented rituals. Believing in genetical transferability of communal memory, Bekaia attempts to reconnect with the ancient knowledge and impregnate it with his own experiences and new meaning.
Bekaia studied Industrial Design at Tbilisi Mtsire Academy. His work has been shown internationally and he has been awarded residences at ART OMI, Museum of Art and Design MAD, NY; and Garikula, Georgia. Bekaia is also a founding member of the Tbilisi-based queer creative collective Fungus.
Yasue Maetake (b. 1973, Japanese) combines materials such as rocks, minerals, seashells, and assorted animal bones from taxidermy specimens and other sources with reflective metals including silver, steel, copper, and brass into abstract and figurative forms suggesting both the ancient archetypal and the futuristic. She underlines the transformative aspects of a material’s physical presence, which can be viewed as a living agent and in this sense resonates within the Japanese naturalistic view of history in de-centering anthropocentrism.
Maetake was trained in glass art in Japan and the Czech Republic before moving to New York. Her work has been exhibited extensively in the US and abroad including 10th Sonsbeek in the Netherlands, and more recently, at the 58th Venice Biennale at the Palazzo Benzon. Maetake was recently named as one of “20 international women advancing the field of sculpture” by Artsy and a recipient of New York Foundation for the Arts Fellowship in Sculpture and an artist residency in the studio of El Anatsui in Ghana sponsored by the Agency for Japanese Cultural Affairs. In 2022, Maetake was awarded a grant from the New York State Council on the Arts for the completion of her large-scale project in upcoming years. She earned her MFA from Columbia University in New York.
Catalina Ouyang (b. 1993, American) engages object-making, interdisciplinary environments, and time-based projects to indicate counter-narratives around representation and self-definition. Through expansion, fragmentation, and abstraction, Ouyang proposes the body as a politicized landscape subject to partition. Working gnostically with materials ranging from hand-carved wood and stone to appropriated literature and historic artifacts, Ouyang also attends to critical reimagining of historical formation wherein monstrosity, animality, and toxicity act as ciphers for the psycho-affective alienation of the minor subject.
Ouyang has exhibited her work internationally, and has attended residences at Shandaken: Storm King (New Windsor, NY), the NARS Foundation (Brooklyn, NY), OBRAS (Evoramonte, Portugal), the Atlantic Center for the Arts (New Smyrna Beach, FL), Vermont Studio Center, and MASS MoCA. Ouyang was a 2020-21 Studio Artist at Smack Mellon (Brooklyn, NY). Ouyang has received awards from the Foundation of Contemporary Arts, the Puffin Foundation, the Santo Foundation, Real Art Ways, and the Elizabeth Greenshields Foundation. Ouyang received an MFA from Yale University and is based in New York.