The human body was one of the earliest subjects of sculpture, predating galleries or artistic statements or even recorded history. Even today, the functions range from ritualistic to iconographic, decorative to narrative-driven. Seeing the form through the lens of Emil Alzamora, the human form’s possibilities are stretched further. At times, his works feel like allusions to the physical body, marked by familiar positioning and distorted states. And in eroding away the things that may seem personal about a figure, like clothing, facial features, or age, universal stories unfold.
When Hi-Fructose last visited Alzamora’s work, the subjects felt more direct. A “Spaceman” (2011) fell to the ground; another figure reflects into the mirror with somberness. Before that, in another Hi-Fructose post, a neck elongated and snaked around the body and above, finding a new vantage point. These were complex, provocative, gorgeously rendered works. And there came a point, during the past few years, that Alzamora’s work garnered a sense of simplicity (or “distilled or eroded,” as the artist has stated). An anonymity and androgyny was seen in sculptures in his 2015 solo show at Marc Straus Gallery in New York City. Yet, entering the room with the pieces shown above, the viewer feels the presence of a narrative already unfolding.
The materials Alzamora uses change regularly: gypsum, wood, ceramics, wax. Each informs the figures we meet through Alzamora’s hands. And as far back as the medium goes, these personal, yet anonymous sculptures feel as though they’ll resonate far into the future.