Xavier Veilhan – The possibilities of representation

Posted September 6th, 2013 under Festival

Xavier Veilhan was born in France in 1963, and currently works and lives in Paris. Veilhan uses digital photography, sculpture, public statuary, video, installations and even the art of the exhibition, to build his work around the same axis: the possibilities of representation. One of the most striking features of his polymorphic practice is that he treats generic objects and shapes of everyday life so that they come out smoothed, without details, and resistant to any psychological insight.

Since the 1990s, bestiaries occupy a significant place in this process, and among them, penguins and rhinoceros of unnatural colours, made of painted polyester resin. The Rhinoceros (1999), made to scale, was lacquered in Ferrari red, in a way that instantly modifies the perception of the mastodon’s “body work”. In 2008, he built a to scale replica of a gleaming metal shark that was given a generic title, Shark. Veilhan’s anthropomorphic figures are archetypes reduced to the essential, prepared so as to allow the viewer to immediately project himself beyond the anecdotal. Without seeking to be a perfect copy, they manage to impose their intimidating authority over the viewer.

Fascinated by the issues of modernity and technical progress, Veilhan was also interested in mecha-nical systems and in the way these are constructed. With The Model T Ford (1997-1999), he even went against “Fordism” by conducting the handmade reconstruction of this 1910 car, a symbol of the first mass productions. From stereotype to prototype, the artist has clouded the issue and covered his tracks by playing with the standards : bicycles, a motor scooter, and a Swiss cuckoo clock. Like with bestiary, modernity and progress mirrored in mechanical inventiveness has penetrated Xavier Veilhan’s career (which started at the end of the 1980s), and is still present in his most recent exhibitions.

With The Forest or The Cave (made in 1998), Xavier Veilhan proposed visiting experiences that take place in huge environments. The framework is always visible so as not to create false illusions: in Veilhan’s art, construction is essential. Rolls of grey felt that function as trunks, suggest a forest. The same material covers the ground. The sensitive experience of this synthetic environment is plunged into a muffled atmosphere, confined and soundproofed by the material used, as it dissects the automatisms of identification by resorting to strong cultural symbols. Veilhan employs these devices both in his major works and in isolated objects. And nothing pleases him more in recent years than to push these principals to the performance and show side whose economy he works on like a visual form. It is as much an opportunity to work with musicians and dancers, to use a new function of time and duration, as to confront forms with manipulation and movement, again and still present, like a safeguard, an absolute value.

“Transforming signs into instruments”: he likes to confess his passion by sublimating it into statues and exhibitions. In fact, after his major installations at the end of the nineties, not only did he had a go at making a scenography of his own works of art (Le Plein Emploi, Strasbourg 2005), but also of works by other artists (The Photorealist Project, for the Lyon Biennale in 2003, or the sculptural Baron de Triqueti, in 2006). The possibilities offered by the art of the exhibition, from the visual ideology which governs the Versailles gardens, through the techniques employed in constructivist propaganda, to the systems and political issues of the great Universal Exhibitions, constitute a series of fruitful analytical issues for an artist who’s interested in the orchestration of power and its iconographic materialization.
- Text from www.veilhan.net

On Air: Xavier Veilhan

The ikono On Air Festival is showing the following films by Xavier Veilhan:

Pendule Dripping
Photo © Florian Kleinefenn
2011, Color silent movie, HD., 01:30

Copyright Xavier Veilhan
Courtesy of Galerie Perrotin, Paris.

Photo © Florian Kleinefenn

Xavier Veilhan
2008, Color movie, 07:14

Copyright Xavier Veilhan
Courtesy of Andrehn & Schiptjenko, Stockholm, Galerie Perrotin, Paris.
Copyright Photography: Xavier Veilhan
In collaboration with Michael Elion.
Music by AIR.

Keep the Brown

2003, Color Silent Movie, 07:40

Copyright Xavier Veilhan
Courtesy of Andrehn & Schiptjenko, Stockholm, Gale-rie Perrotin, Paris
Co-produced by Arthurpym & Anna Sanders Films.

Xavier Veilhan
2003, Color silent movie, 07:50

Copyright Xavier Veilhan
Courtesy of Andrehn & Schiptjenko, Stockholm, Galerie Perrotin, Paris
Co-produced by Arthurpym & Anna Sanders Films.

Also see still on top of page

Le Film du Japon

2002, 08:30, Color, Silent movie

Copyright: Xavier Veilhan
Courtesy of Andrehn & Schiptjenko, Stockholm, Galerie Perrotin, Paris.
Co-produced by CCA Kitakyushu, JRP Edi-tions, Genève, & Anna Sanders Films.


Website of Xavier Veilhan: www.veilhan.net
- Xavier Veilhan is represented by Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Galerie Perrotin and 313 Art Project