This month I thought I would look at an artist that was recommended to me over the summer. Xavier Veilhan, is a Paris based sculptor known for large painted steel and aluminum sculptures. His subject matter often draws on historical public sculpture, such as horses, lions, and, of course, monumental human figures, but it is updated by contemporary technology and sensibilities. As a result the figures are rendered anonymous and abstract, recognizable by their stance, not expression.
Veilhan’s work might even be familiar already as it graced the cover of the 2007 album Pocket Symphony by the French band Air.
In 2009 Veilhan had a large, mostly outdoor exhibition on the grounds of the Versailles Palace. The overwhelming size and decoration of the palace itself would swallow up the work of many artists but Veilhan’s stunning Le Carrosse managed to stand out. The digital angles of the vibrating horse and carriage forms contrasted strongly with the curves and repetition of the palace’s façade.
Another of my favorites from this show is called Le Gisant, Youri Gagarine; a jeweled cosmonaut crash-landed on the black-and-white op-art tiles of the palaces’ courtyard.
Veilhan returned to his vibrating horse-and-carriage theme this year for a piece on display at the 2010 World Expo in Shanghai that really confounds the screen image with reality.
For those of us not going to France or Shanghai this year, there is fortunately a Veilhan horse currently on display in the entry rotunda at the Montreal Museum of Contemporary Art, a little closer to home.
To finish up, I thought I would mention another artist that was recently recommended to me and in whose geometric forms I can see somewhat of a precedent to Veilhans work, but without the figurative element. Tony Smith was producing these pieces in the late sixties and seventies.