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David Altmejd at David Kordansky Gallery


Heads and busts feature prominently in “The Enlightenment of the Witch,” a solo show by David Altmejd at David Kordansky Gallery. Spread across four rooms, Altmejd presents a cast of sculptural characters that includes trolls, Smurfs, unicorns, and witches. The figures progress with various states of transmutation—what the press release calls “primal states of unknowing.” 

The angelic figure who peers inquisitively at her hands in the first room soon makes way for a Smurf-man who is split down his center as if in some kind of stage of doubling. In another, a troll’s face is triangulated (as if looking through a kaleidoscope), his long braid in triplicate flowing down his back. These bodies continue to split and multiply, culminating with the witch figure in the last room: fully splayed open, legs spread, and birthing a crowning baby. Here, the fantastical and comedic (in one work, a severed neck smokes a cigarette) meet the psychological as Altmejd’s figures expose the inner essence of humanness: birth, death, expansion, and a communion with something larger than ourselves.

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Photo: David Altmejd, “The Troll,” 2021 (detail). Image courtesy of David Kordansky Gallery, Los Angeles. Photo: Lee Thompson.