Pawel Althamer casts his collaborators at Venice
Polish sculptor's figurative sculpture series Venetians 2013 is a hit at the Biennale
No one can deny Pawel Althamer's energy. Within the past few years, the artist has travelled to Mali dressed as a cartoon goat, 'explored' Belgium, Brazil and England with his band of willing travellers, each wearing a golden coloured astronaut's suit, and has cast masks of his friends' faces for an ongoing series of works which explore our bodily presence, and the illusive soul, located somewhere within.
His latest hit series is Venetians (2013); a set of 90 figurative sculptures currently on show in Venice's Arsenale as part of the 55th International Art Exhibition.
These pieces were created with the help of Althamer's father's plastics firm; their face masks were cast from the features of Althamer's close circle of collaborators, and then set onto spindly, prolapsed bodies, which neither seem to celebrate, nor despair in the human form, but find some diffident note, somewhere inbetween. As Althamer explains in his typically exuberant style in the video below, they appear to be neither "not dancing or playing, just being."
It's an engaging, thought-provoking inclusion at Venice, from a creative who has long distanced himself from the idea of the artist as a lone genius, delving for meaning and insight within his own, individual soul.
For a more prosaic example of what's going on in Althamer's head, go to Venice's Tre Oci gallery, where the artist is sharing a show with Anatoly Osmolovsky. Entitled Parallel Convergences, and running until the beginning of October, the exhibition features a series of short films of Althamer under the influence of LSD, psychoactive mushrooms, truth serum, cannabis, and other drugs, as well as hypnosis and similiar non-pharmacological mind bending techniques. Dubbed So-called Waves and Other Phenomena of the Mind, the series is offset by Weronika (2004) which documents his daughter's birth and early life, as she also explores the world as it appears to her.
Whether examining inner space, or the immediate world around us, Althamer makes even the most workaday experience seem like a giant leap for mankind.
To find our more about the international exhibition, go here. For the Tre Oci show, it's here. For a greater understanding of this important contemporary artist, please take a look at our wonderful, comprehensive monograph on him. If you're a big Althamer fan we still have a few left of our limited edition collector's edition format featuring the sculpture, Nomo from Mars, which you can read about top right.