Veilhan at Hatfield: Promenade
Published to accompany the exhibition Veilhan at Hatfield: Promenade, organised by Hatfield House and Galerie Perrotin.
First published in 2012 by Gascoyne Holdings Press
Debora, 2011 ____Collection Sandra Gering, New York ____Photo © Diane Arques
© Veilhan/DACS/ADAGP, Paris 2012 www.veilhan.net
On Xavier Veilhan
The moral rights of the authors have been asserted. All rights reserved. No part of this publication may be reproduced, stored in a retrieval system or transmitted in any form or by any means, electrical, mechanical or otherwise, without first seeking the written permission of the copyright owners and the publisher.
The Rhinoceros, 1999 ____Exhibition view, Le Plein emploi, Xavier Veilhan with Alexis Bertrand, MAMC, Strasbourg, 18/11/05 – 16/04/06 ____Collection Musée National d’Art Moderne, Centre Pompidou, Paris. ____Photo © Florian Kleinefenn
ISBN 978-0-9568579-3-4 A catalogue record for this book is available from the British Library.
The Model T Ford, 1999 ____Collection F.R.A.C. Poitou-Charentes, Angoulème ____Photo © Studio Xavier Veilhan The Forest, 1998 ____Exhibition view, solo show, CCA Kitakyushu, 29/08 — 19/09/98 ____Collection MAMCO, Geneva ____Photo © Studio Xavier Veilhan
Le Plein emploi ____Exhibition view, Le Plein emploi, Xavier Veilhan with Alexis Bertrand, MAMC, Strasbourg, 18/11/05 — 16/04/06 ____Photo © Florian Kleinefenn The Bear, 2010 ____Private Collection, New York ____Photo © Guillaume Ziccarelli A Conversation Xavier Veilhan at his Studio, 2009 ____Photo © The Selby Preparatory sketches for Marine aux Rayons (2011) ____Photo © Diane Arques
Colophon Selection and siting of works ____Robert Burton and Xavier Veilhan Exhibition Coordination ____Violeta Kreimer, Raphaël Raynaud and Florian Sumi for Atelier Xavier Veilhan; and Robert Burton for Hatfield House Installation ____Florian Sumi, Raphaël Raynaud, Dimitri Mallet, Dave Williams, John Gallagher and the Mtec team Commissioning Editor ____Robert Burton Catalogue coordination ____Diane Arques, Danielle Cardoso Tramslation ____Letizia Reuss, Atelier Xavier Veilhan Graphic design ____Nicholas Jeeves www.nicholasjeeves.com Site Photography ____Stephen Ambrose www.stephenambrose.co.uk Printing ____Emtone Print, Bath, UK www.emtone.co.uk
Scanning of model, Marine aux Rayons (2011) ____Photo © Diane Arques Sketch model of Rays (2011) ____Photo © Diane Arques Monceau (2008) ____Private Collection, Liban ____Photo © Marc Domage First proposed sketch for Rays at Hatfield’s Knot Garden for Promenade (2011) ____Photo © Diane Arques Installing Vibration (2010) ____Photo © Studio Xavier Veilhan Norman Foster (2011) at Studio Xavier Veilhan ____Photo © Diane Arques Preparatory sketches for Orchestra (2011) ____Photo © Diane Arques Work in progress, The Monument (2011) ____Photo © Diane Arques Model of The Monument (2011) ____Photo © Diane Arques Exhibition view, solo show, Galerie Jennifer Flay (1994) ____Photo © Studio Xavier Veilhan Preparatory sketches for Le Gisant, Youri Gagarine (2009) ____Photo © Diane Arques Model of Le Gisant, Youri Gagarine (2009) ____Photo © Studio Xavier Veilhan
___1___ On Xavier Veilhan by Benedicte Ramade
___2___ Catalogue of Works
Xavier Veilhan at Hatfield ___Promenade___
___3___ A Conversation Xavier Veilhan and Jessica Lack
____On Xavier Veilhan____ by Benedicte Ramade
Whether he uses digital photography, sculpture, public statuary, installations or even the art of the exhibition, Xavier Veilhan builds 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 the shapes of everyday life in such a way that they emerge smoothed, without detail, and resistant to any psychological insight. Since the 1990s bestiaries have occupied a significant place in this process, among them penguins and rhinoceroses of unnatural colours, made of painted polyester resin. The Rhinoceros (1999), made at life-size, was lacquered in Ferrari red in a way that instantly modifies the perception of the mastodon’s ‘body work’. Already in 1995, with Les Gardes Républicaines, he had produced a completely generic set of four mounted guards. The statues stood like Qu’il emploie la photographie numérique, la sculpture, la statuaire publique, la vidéo, l’installation ou même l’art de l’exposition, Xavier Veilhan architecture ses oeuvres autour d’une colonne vertébrale: les possibilités de la représentation.________L’un des marqueurs les plus visibles dans
sa pratique polymorphe est le recours à un traitement par la version générique de formes et d’objets, lissée, sans détail ni psychologie. Depuis les années 1990, le bestiaire animalier occupe une place de choix dans ce processus; entre autres, pingouins et rhinocéros sont réalisés en
résine teintée dans la masse, de coloris non naturalistes. Le Rhinocéros (1999), réalisé à échelle réelle, fut laqué en rouge Ferrari, modifiant instantanément la perception du mastodonte «carrossé». Déjà en 1995, avec Les Gardes Républicains, il avait réalisé un ensemble de quatre gardes à
____The Rhinoceros____ 1999 Painted polyester resin 170 x 140 x 415 cm
____The Model T Ford ____ 1999 Life-size reconstruction of a 1923 Model T Ford; Metal chassis, wood bodywork, restored authentic engine 175 x 300 x 170 cm
real-size toy figures. Veilhan’s figures are archetypes reduced to essentials, 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 him.______Fascinated by the issues of modernity and technical progress, Veilhan was also interested in mechanical systems and how they are constructed. With The Model T Ford (1999) he 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 standards. The Model T Ford was followed by bicycles, a motor scooter, and more recently, a Swiss cuckoo clock. This huge sixteen-foot long mechanical artwork, equipped with colored lacquered wheels, cheval totalement génériques. Les statues se tenaient comme des figurines de jouets à taille réelle. Les figures de Veilhan sont des archétypes réduit à l’essentiel, préparés pour que le spectateur puisse s’y projeter immédiatement et dépasser le stade de l’anecdote. Sans rechercher un mimétisme
virtuose, elles parvenaient immédiatement à établir un intimidant rapport d’autorité sur le spectateur.________Fasciné par les questions de modernité et de progrès technique, Veilhan s’intéressa parallèlement aux systèmes mécaniques, à la construction de machines. Avec la Ford T (1999),
il contraria même «Le Fordisme» en faisant réaliser à la main cette voiture des années 1910, symbole des premières productions à la chaîne. Du stéréotype au prototype, l’artiste a brouillé les cartes et les repères en s’attaquant aux standards. Ont suivis les bicyclettes, un scooter-tour de potier, et
____The Forest____ 1998 Synthetic cloth Variable dimensions
measures an enigmatic amount of time when a metallic sphere is activated in its system.______As with the bestiaries, mechanical modernity has been a guiding thread all through his career (which started at the end of the 1980s) and is still present in his most recent exhibitions. With The Forest or The Cave (1998), Xavier Veilhan proposes 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 sensory 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 récemment un coucou suisse. Cet énorme ouvrage d’art machinique de cinq mètres de long, doté de rouages colorés et laqués, mesure un temps énigmatique lorsqu’il actionne une boule métallique dans son système.________Ainsi, comme les bestiaires, la modernité mécanique traverse la carrière de Xavier
Veilhan, commencée à la fin des années 1980, et se poursuit dans les expositions les plus récentes. Avec La Forêt ou La Grotte (réalisées en 1998), Xavier Veilhan propose des expériences de visite dans d’énormes environnements. Il en révèle toujours la structure porteuse afin de ne ménager
aucune illusion: dans l’art de Veilhan, il s’agit avant tout de construction. La forêt est suggérée par des rouleaux de feutre gris, en guise de troncs; la même matière recouvre le sol. Plongée dans une ambiance sourde, confinée et isolée sur le plan phonique par le matériau utilisé, l’expérience
isolated objects. ‘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 have a go at making a scenography of his own works (Le Plein emploi, Strasbourg 2005), he also made two other shows with the works of other artists (The Photorealist Project, for the Lyon Biennale in 2003, and the sculptural Baron de Triqueti, in 2006). The possibilities offered by the art of the exhibition, from the Versailles gardens, through the techniques employed in constructivist propaganda, to the world’s fairs, constitute a series of fruitful analytical issues for an artist interested in the orchestration of power and its iconographic materialization.______Following this logic, Xavier Veilhan has responded to a number of public commissions in France, creating a grey monster in Tours (2006), a blue lion in sensible de cet environnement synthétique dissèque les automatismes d’identification à travers le recours à de puissants symboles culturels. Veilhan les utilise tour à tour dans des oeuvres globales et des objets isolés. ‘Instrumentaliser les signes’, il aime avouer sa passion convertie en statues et en
expositions. En effet, depuis les grandes installations de la fin des années 1990, Xavier Veilhan s’est frotté à l’exercice de la scénographie de ses propres oeuvres (Le Plein emploi, Strasbourg, 2005), mais également d’oeuvres d’autres artistes (Projet Hyperréaliste réalisé à la Biennale de Lyon en 2003, ou
le sculptural Baron de Triqueti en 2006). Les dispositifs d’exposition, depuis le jardin de Versailles, en passant par les techniques de propagandes constructivistes, jusqu’aux grandes expositions universelles, constituent des enjeux analytiques féconds pour l’artiste, intéressé par l’orchestration du
____Le Plein emploi____ 2005-2006 Xavier Veilhan with scenographer Alexis Bertrand
____The Bear____ 2010 Painted polyurethane resin 270 x 176 x 135.5 cm
Bordeaux, and a bear, penguins and other characters in Lyon (2006). The archetype becomes here a catalyst that gives way to a reflection on the commemorative dimension of public statuary and on its action as a ‘sign’ in our urban everyday life.______
pouvoir et sa matérialisation iconographique.________Selon cette logique, Xavier Veilhan a répondu à des commandes publiques en France, réalisant un monstre gris à Tours (2004), un lion bleu à Bordeaux (2005), un ours, des pingouins et des personnages à Lyon (2006).
L’amorce archétypale donne lieu ici à une réflexion sur la dimension commémorative de la statuaire publique, son action ‘signe’ dans le quotidien urbain.________
____Catalogue of Works____
______When looking at a tree planted by a person who disappeared a long time ago, a garden may reveal how society interacts with nature. The plant growing here is not just a plant: it is the shadow of the desire our ancestor left behind him.______
_____En regardant un arbre planté par une personne disparue depuis longtemps, on peut comprendre qu’un jardin révèle l’interaction entre la nature et la société. La plante qui pousse ici n’est pas seulement une plante, mais aussi l’ombre du désir que l’un de nos ancêtres a laissé derrière lui._____
____Norman Foster____ 2011 Polished stainless steel 177 x 42 x 47 cm Courtesy Galerie Perrotin, Paris
____Vibration____ 2010-2012 Steel, polyurethane paint 239 x 610 x 190 cm Courtesy of the artist & Galerie Perrotin, Paris
____Le Gisant, Youri Gagarine____ 2009 Aluminium, polyurethane resin, polyurethane paint 76 x 450 x 186 cm Courtesy Galerie Perrotin, Paris
____Richard Rogers____ 2010 Aluminium 177 x 56 x 36 cm Prototype Xavier Veilhan Studio
____Alice____ 2012 Bronze, polyurethane paint 155 x 71 x 114 cm Courtesy Galerie Perrotin, Paris
____Rays____ 2012 Elastic, steel Site-specific installation Courtesy Galerie Perrotin, Paris
____Marine____ 2012 Bronze, steel, polyurethane paint 286 x 100 x 78 cm Courtesy Galerie Perrotin, Paris
____Marine aux Rayons____ 2012 Bronze, white gold, polyurethane paint, polyurethane resin, carbon 210 x 182 x 174 cm Courtesy Galerie Perrotin, Paris
____The Monument____ 2011 Polyurethane resin, wood, steel, paint, zinc, imitation leather, cut branches 225 x 815 x 540 cm Courtesy Galerie Perrotin, Paris
____Shark____ 2008 Polished stainless steel, epoxy painting 200 x 500 x 220 cm Private collection, Paris
____Debora____ 2011 Aluminium 200 x 55 x 33 cm Collection Sandra Gering, New York
____The Hatfield Mobile____ 2012 Carbon, fiberglass, aluminium, polypropylene, polyurethane resin, polyurethane paint 400 x 300 cm maximum diameter Courtesy Galerie Perrotin, Paris
____A Conversation____ Xavier Veilhan and Jessica Lack
______It is important to me that people who come to see the show can move around, sit down, relax. I don’t want it to be a blank abstract space. It is for the people and it should provide interaction between what they look at and the mood they are in. It is very important they are comfortable and open to the experience that the art is leaving room for them.______ Xavier Veilhan at his studio (2009)
_____C’est important pour moi que les visiteurs qui découvrent l’exposition puissent aller et venir, s’asseoir et se détendre. Je ne veux pas que ce soit un espace vide ou abstrait. C’est un espace pensé pour eux afin d’établir des relations entre ce qu’ils regardent et leurs pensées. Je veux qu’ils se sentent bien pour être réceptifs à l’expérience à laquelle l’art les invite._____
_____Can we start at the beginning? When did you first become interested in art? _____Memories become stories, so what I remember is probably false. My parents were both very culturally-minded, and I have five sisters — a very lively household. I was in the middle, so I had to find my own way. There were always people playing music at home, which is something I was very bad at it. I was good at building small objects though, so I thought that might be something. First I thought I might be a carpenter and do fine joinery. I used to look at my father building simple wooden boats that we would sail in the summer. Looking back I think that was quite symbolic. You build something you want to use: it’s almost a political statement. You use boats to go somewhere, to go fishing or camping. I was very seduced by the obviousness of this idea. Also, to me reality is very complex and chaotic and art is a way of synthesizing it. People may think art is very blurry, but to me it is reality that is unreadable and art, being focused, is clear. When I came to art school in Paris I was very happy to be in a big city. At the same time I was there to study art, which was very exciting but I wasn’t an artist. I became an artist when someone asked me what I was doing and I’d say ‘I am an artist’. Then I had to fulfil that statement. _____This would have been the early 1980s. What were the dominant movements at that time and what were you interested in? _____I was into in post-pop, conceptual art and minimalism. It was a time when music in general was more important to me than almost anything else. So clubbing, punk, hip-hop and the first electro were very important to me. Visual art is fantastic. It is like a cloud that embraces the real. But music is more intense, and that led me to want to collaborate with the musicians I admire: Sébastien Tellier, Air, Christophe Chassol...
_____What is it you like about collaborating? _____Musicians fascinate me. Singing and being able to play an instrument amazes me. There is a certain lyricism I can accept in music that I don’t accept in visual art. When art is too lyrical it’s just not for me, whereas this emphasis works in the musical field. When I collaborated with Air and Sébastien Tellier I found they didn’t have any theoretical pre-judgments about their playing. I find most of the concerts I go to quite ugly and conventional visually, but they are very intense experiences in other ways. I like to bring some of that poetical power into an exhibition. The problem I often find with exhibitions is that they can be lifeless and morbid. I sometimes think they are like shells on a beach, with nothing living inside them. It is important to me that people who come to see the show can move around, sit down, relax. I don’t want it to be a blank abstract space. It is for the people and it should provide interaction between what they look at and the mood they are in. It is very important they are open to the room that art is leaving for them. When working on an exhibition it is important that I see the place where I am going to exhibit. Even if my work is not site-specific, it is imperative that I get an impulse from the place itself just by visiting it. _____So how long do you like to spend in a place where you are making a site-specific work of art? _____I made a show in Japan last year, and after seeing the place we went to a restaurant with the curator and I made this drawing. Six months later when the show opened it was just the same as the drawing. But this is quite rare. I’m often working on different projects simultaneously, so it’s about relaxing and getting an idea. Sometimes I have no ideas but that is interesting too, because the solution appears mysteriously, and these can end up being the best shows. It is like setting out on a long journey with no clue where you are going and then suddenly
you reach your destination. It’s like a dream that you cannot express. Art is a bit like that sometimes. The pressure only comes from a situation that you build yourself, yet unlike a surgeon or a fireman, if you don’t create anything, no one gets hurt. The work I’m creating is only a tool to reach people’s feelings and understanding: art is the medium, not the goal. The starting point of any exhibition comes from the ambiance I want to create, using any means necessary. This often corresponds to the place hosting me, but this doesn’t mean it is sitespecific: it can survive in another environment. _____Do you ever feel the pressure of the people around you who are investing their time and effort into your show? _____I relish the attention, and it is actually very pleasant. I was working on my own for the first ten years and only a few people were interested in what I was doing. This was fine with me but I was always hoping for someone to react to what I was doing. Then it grew and now I am in the happy position where I can have many co-workers. _____Now you are much more established in the art world, how do you view it? _____The present situation is very unpredictable, very messy but in a good way. When I started in the late 1980s some people thought that they could predict the global situation in the art world, but by the late 90s that wasn’t possible anymore. This situation is good for me. For example, I was in L.A. recently and discovered a lot of artists from the early 1960s and 1970s who I didn’t know before because they were too localised or not represented in the market. The globalisation of the art world is an opportunity in many ways, as it makes competition pointless. It is as if there are a great multitude of different races being run simultaneously and you can only compete in one.
Preparatory sketches for Marine aux Rayons (2011)
Preparatory sketch for Marine aux Rayons (2011)
Scanning of model, Marine aux Rayons (2011)
Sketch model of Rays (2011)
First proposed sketch for Rays at Hatfieldâ€™s Knot Garden for Promenade (2011)
_____Do you think the rise of art fairs has contributed to this mess‚ as you say?
your home for a time and you develop a strong relationship with the people and the place.
_____I always force myself to go to art fairs. It is not the commercial aspect I object to at art fairs, it is the sampling. You can see many artworks but not a single exhibition. What is great are the exhibitions that are put on in the city’s galleries and museums during the art fair, like in London or Basel. Ultimately the tempo is always driven by the market.
There is such an intense history at Hatfield House, but I am not interested in looking at it like an art historian, but as a living artist trying to focus on the compulsions that led to its creation. Ultimately, I want to try to find out how it could be captured and translated today.
_____Hatfield House is not the first 17th century building you have shown work in. You also had an exhibition at Versailles. Is it like a conversation between the two? _____Well, I was invited to make a show in Versailles as well as in Hatfield. But I never woke up in the morning and thought I would love to make a show in Versailles or Hatfield, somebody had to propose it to me. I think I was asked to exhibit at Versailles because I have this ability to have a dialogue with history and also because the physical scale of my art is suited to the grandiose nature of the open air of Versailles. You wouldn’t invite Richard Prince to exhibit works in Versailles for example, because his work is not suited to the place. But you could invite Richard Serra. What drives me is my host’s desire for something that I can create. The challenge is to make the curator’s invitation coincide with a dialogue with visitors; the people who visit places like Hatfield with no expectations of what they might see, or knowledge that the art of a living artist will be there. Catching people’s attention is more interesting in this context than having a ready gallery audience who are devoted to look at what I am doing. During my stay in Hatfield, I was overcome by an unexpected feeling where I felt very connected to the people, their relationship to nature and their super-European feeling. But at the same time there were very unfamiliar aspects. What is great with art is the unexpected part. I never thought I would have a show in a British stately home. But this becomes your situation,
_____Tell me about The Hatfield Mobile, which will be inside the house. _____To me mobiles evoke the insides of people’s heads, their thoughts as much as a cosmic vision on a wider scale. I am very interested in perception and brain science, which is still very much a mystery. The relationship between what is rational and mechanical as opposed to what is conceptual and emotional is central to me. With a mobile, although you design its shape, it will never be that shape, because it is constantly changing. You design a programme of things happening that you don’t control, an interaction with the invisible air moving around. It is a bit like a kaleidoscope in which there are billions of possibilities. It is also about time, this cosmic feeling of revolutions. Because it is suspended and not bolted to the wall or to the floor, it is a bit like a cloud or a fog. Of course when you mention the word ‘mobile’, people always relate it to Alexander Calder. I love Calder, but I think mobiles have so much potential, that there are many unexplored possibilities. _____Is it about the relationship between time and space too? _____I don’t know why but there is certainly a relationship to clocks and the measuring of time and the mechanical devices that do this. I remember when I was thinking about the show for Versailles I was very aware of how big the space was and how foreboding the architecture was, and I wanted to make something light, something in the air, and I thought a mobile would be perfect for that. It was constantly moving, but it was so big and was moving so slowly that you couldn’t notice it. It was making the space
like the building: different each time you looked at it. _____But you also root some of your sculptures to the ground using a plinth. Is this your contradictory nature? _____Probably, but good art is like a constantly changing question. The simple fact that it is there is already a question in itself. The space between the concept and the reality of physical presence is one of these questions, the abstract and the very practical. In Hatfield, I used the trunks of trees that were due to be removed. I had them cut at different heights so that they could be used as plinths. But the statues displayed on these natural pedestals were initially conceived to stand at the same height as the viewer. So it’s always back and forth between these ideas. I spend my days working on practicalities: Is it too heavy? Will it work? In the end what I want from the people leaving Hatfield after seeing the exhibition is to have a certain feeling. What people will get from the show is my goal, not the devices I’m using for it. _____Other than the mobile, all your other sculptures are situated outside. The British landscape is very different to the formality of French gardens. Is this something that interests you? _____Very much. The garden was a place for politics, love and parties in the 17th century. It was a kind of metaphorical nature. It shows the development of civilizations. I’m curious about French, Japanese and English gardens. You have this fading of civilization into nature and vice-versa. People who go for a walk in a forest are not in a natural environment: if it were an actual virgin forest they wouldn’t even be able to walk through it. So there are a lot of artificial elements intricated in the landscape, like a road going through a mountain. At Hatfield there is this situation where one half of the house is the familial home to the Marquess and Marchioness of Salisbury and the other half is for visitors. It’s an interesting hybrid of society, the attraction of the royal family and of nobility as tourism, and why
______What drives me is my host’s desire for something that I can create. The challenge is to make the curator’s invitation coincide with a dialogue with visitors; people who visit places like Hatfield with no expectations of what they might see, or knowledge that the art of a living artist will be there. Catching people’s attention is more interesting in this context than having a ready gallery audience who are devoted to looking at what I am doing.______
Installing Vibration (2010)
_____Ce qui me plaît, c’est le désir de mon hôte pour ce que je suis capable de créer. L’enjeu est de faire coïncider l’invitation du commissaire et le dialogue avec les visiteurs: le public des lieux comme Hatfield ne s’attend pas forcément à y trouver l’exposition d’un artiste vivant. C’est plus intéressant de capter alors son attention, plutôt que de s’adresser au public averti d’une galerie._____
______I spend a lot of time thinking about and trying to anticipate the audience’s response to my work. But I fail most of the time, and that is what I like: this back and forth dialogue between the artwork that I make and its reality. If it lasts after I die I won’t have a clue where it goes and how it will be received and understood. At a certain point it has to live on its own.______
Norman Foster (2011) at Studio Xavier Veilhan
_____J’essaie toujours de prévoir et d’anticiper la réaction du public face à mon travail (c’est même là l’essentiel de mon travail). La plupart du temps, je n’y parviens pas, et cela me plaît: c’est un dialogue entre ce que je crois créer et sa réalité effective. Si ce travail me survit: que deviendra t-il et comment sera-t-il reçu? A un certain moment, il devra vivre par lui-même._____
they choose to bring art to this place. A garden is not a white cube: I love the open-air feeling, having to deal with questions of scale, with the weather and the other visual elements like the trees, the insects and the animals. You don’t look at things but pass by them in a garden; it turns the visual experience into a promenade. _____Do they then become conversational pieces? _____Yes. I had a revelation when I was working at Versailles. Looking at the Water Parterres I realised that the work on the landscape was comparable to earth works, like Robert Smithson’s Spiral Jetty. It’s like a huge artificial landscape work that could be erased in a few years if no-one cares for it. The lakes of Versailles were emptied during the Second World War because the reflection could be used to help the planes locate Paris and bomb it: then all these plants started to grow and in two years they had trees. What seems to be permanent in a garden is always temporary, provisional. _____Can I ask you about colour? There are certain works in the show, like Alice, which here is this amazing dark blue, but was a striking yellow at the Orchestra exhibition in Paris. _____Well, monochrome colour is more like a question than an affirmation. People ask, Why is this naked woman yellow, or blue? It’s not a question that leads to any answer. In terms of perceptions, a colour is a light frequency: what you see is the only colour that the material didn’t absorb. You see yellow, but all the colours are there. Everything has elements of every colour, you just don’t always see them. When you use monochrome colour you are not adding something to reality, it is more like cutting out a silhouette. It is a space preserved for the viewer where they can shelter their own vision. In some situations you want to alert people with colour; at other times you want to make something quiet and beautiful. Monochrome is simply a way to celebrate shape
and form. There is also something interesting in the arbitrary nature of a colour choice. It is difficult to explain, but it could not be as good if it was done differently. I sometimes have difficulties with collectors because they would have bought a piece of art if it had been green and not red. But it is red. It’s not about choice, it’s the fact that it is red that is the reality of it. It’s not something I am very clear about to be honest. What I do know is that when I choose to make a sculpture with two colours, nobody asks me about the colour! _____I would like to ask about Marine with Rays. It looks like she has a force field around her... _____This is a motif rooted in the golden rays that you see in Baroque and Renaissance art, in works by artists like Bernini, and it is usually presented as the spreading of the power and the light. As a modern artist I like to revisit these ideas of representing energy, but it is not about religion anymore, it is about transmissions and frequencies. There is a great poetry in photosynthesis, in the transmission of colour, sound and image. With Marine with Rays I wanted to celebrate everyday people in their grace. _____You say you see yourself as a modern artist, not a post-modern artist. Could you explain why? _____I never understood what postmodernism meant. It is a shame to live in any post- era. I clearly remember being on the fringe of adulthood, feeling so good and full of energy: this feeling was rooted in the modern. Modernity is like a strong baseline, a stream of energy leading you to make things better.
mysterious and hard to describe. Not religious or metaphysical, it is just there, like a wave. There is a visible part and a non-visible part in our surroundings. For me good art is about revealing the non-visible part. _____You seem to spend a lot of time anticipating the audience’s response to your work. _____I do, but I fail most of the time, and that is what I like: this back and forth dialogue between the artwork that I make and its reality. If it lasts after I die I won’t have a clue where it goes and how it will then be received and understood. At a certain point it has to live on its own. _____I have noticed in reading about your work that critics like to make references to science fiction. _____I am touched by the poetry of science more than science fiction. I am not a scientist but I think there is a certain approach to science through mathematics and physics that is very close to pure poetry. But no, science fiction is like an old concept to me. I am interested in the history of science and its techniques, because things are very linear and then a rupture happens. Something like going to the moon, something big, and in art it is the same. You can’t search for this, you can only go forward. History builds itself in unexpected ways, and the present is often a surprise to me. _____The show will also include sculptures of the architects Richard Rogers and Norman Foster, but you have reduced their appearances.
_____How do you retain that stream of energy, the enigmatic power in your own work? Do you try to hold something back when interviewed?
_____I always want to catch both people’s appearance and their essence at the same time. When you reduce the definition it is like the person has faded in your memory.
_____I am always happy to talk about my work, but sometimes I am wrong. People’s interpretations are more important than what I am actually doing. If I do something and it is misunderstood then it is not about you, it’s about me. But it’s not a linear process, it is more like the fourth dimension, something
It is like seeing someone you think you know walking down the street but it is too far to see them clearly. What makes you recognize them? It is not because their coat is blue, it is their posture, a subtle detail of attitude: there is something mysterious about it. I want the sculptures to be like that.
Preparatory sketches for Orchestra (2011)
Work in progress, The Monument (2011)
Model of The Monument (2011)
Preparatory sketches for Le Gisant, Youri Gagarine (2009)
Exhibition view, solo show, Galerie Jennifer Flay (1994)
Model of Le Gisant, Youri Gagarine (2009)
____Biography____ Xavier Veilhan b. 1963 Lives and works in Paris
Solo Exhibitions and Public Projects 2012
____Promenade, Hatfield House, Hatfield ____Architectone Los Angeles, VDL House, Richard Neutra, Los Angeles ____La Conservera, Murcia ____(IN)balance, The Phillips Collection, Washington ____Orchestra, Galerie Perrotin, Paris ____Spacing, Ilju Foundation, Seoul ____Dark Matter, Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Stockholm ____Free Fall, Espace Louis Vuitton, Tokyo ____Mobile at Maison Louis Vuitton, New York ____Xavier Veilhan, Galerie Perrotin, Miami ____Le Carrosse, Place de la République, Metz ____Interacting with History: Xavier Veilhan at The Mount, The Mount, Lenox ____Kukje Gallery, Seoul ____RAL 5015, Artcurial, Paris ____Sorry We’re Closed, Brussels
Selected Group Exhibitions 2012
____Le monde comme volonté et comme papier peint; curated by Stephanie Moisdon, Le Consortium, Dijon ____Plaisirs de France – art et culture français de la Renaissance à aujourd’hui, Baku Museum of Modern Art, Baku; traveling to Almaty
____The Deer, Le Consortium, Dijon ____French Window: Looking at Contemporary Art Through the Marcel Duchamp Prize, Mori Art Museum, Tokyo ____Look Into My Eyes, Mitterand+Cramer Fine Art, Geneva
____Lumens, Valls Museum, Valls ____Chefs-d’œuvre?, Centre Pompidou, Metz ____Le Mont Analogue, Centro Cultural Metropolitan, Quito, traveling to Montevideo ____Art for the World (The Expo), The City of Forking Path, World Expo 2010, Shanghai ____Catch Me!, Kunsthaus Graz
____Le sort probable de l’homme qui avait avalé le fantôme, Conciergerie, Paris ____Dream Time, La Grotte, Mas d’Azil ____N’importe Quoi, Musée d’Art Contemporain de Lyon, Lyon
____Veilhan Versailles, Château de Versailles ____Sophie, work in situ, Costes Restaurant Le Germain, Paris
____Furtivo, Galerie Perrotin, Paris ____Furtivo, Pinacoteca Giovanni e Marella Agnelli, Torino
____Demolition Party, Royal Monceau Palace Hotel, Paris ____Allsopp Contemporary, London
____Metric, Gering & López Gallery, New York ____Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Stockholm
____Airs de Paris, Centre Pompidou, Paris (La Cabane Éclatée aux Paysages Fantômes, a project with Daniel Buren; Aérolite, a musical show with Air) ____Galerie Rüdiger Schöttle, Munich
____Les Habitants, Palais des Congrès de la Communauté Urbaine de Lyon (with Renzo Piano Building Workshop), Lyon (public project) ____Miami Snowflakes, Galerie Perrotin, Miami ____Sculptures Automatiques, Galerie Perrotin, Paris ____Le Plein emploi, MAMC, Strasbourg ____Le Projet Hyperréaliste, Rose Art Museum, Brandeis University, Waltham, traveling to National Academy Museum, New York ____People as Volume, Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Stockholm ____Fantôme, Centro de Arte Caja de Burgos, Burgos ____Éléments Célestes, artistic conception, Chanel Jewelry, traveling to Taïwan, Paris, New York, Hong Kong, Tokyo ____Le Lion, Place Stalingrad, Bordeaux (public project) ____Vanishing Point, Espace 315, Centre Pompidou, Paris ____Light Machines, Fondation Vasarely, Aix-en-Provence, traveling to Ecuries de Saint-Hugues, Cluny ____Keep the Brown, Galeria Javier Lopez, Madrid ____Big Mobile, Forum, Centre Pompidou, Paris ____Le Monstre, Place du Marché, Tours (public project)
____Keep the Brown, Sandra Gering Gallery, New York
____Barbican Centre, London ____Installation from the workshop, Center for Contemporary Art, CCA Kitakyushu, Japan ____Konsthallen, Göteborg
____Fundació Joan Miró, Centre d’Estudis d’arte contemporani, Barcelona ____Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Stockholm ____Le Magasin, Grenoble; curated by Yves Aupetitallot and Lionel Bovier ____La Ford T, 5th floor terrace, Centre Pompidou, Paris, curated by Lionel Bovier ____Sandra Gering Gallery, New York ____The Rhinoceros, Yves St. Laurent, New York
____Kit O’Parts, CAN, Neuchâtel ____La Force de L’art / Grand Palais 2006, Paris ____Supernova: Experience Pommery #3, Domaine Pommery, Reims ____Thank You For the Music, Simon Lee Gallery, London ____Collection and New Acquisitions, Viktor Pinchuk Foundation, Kiev ____Boucle, Jardin des Tuileries; Ville Nouvelle, Cour de l’Hôtel de Ville, Nuit Blanche, Paris ____InTRANSIT from Object to Site, David Winton Bell Gallery, Brown University, Providence ____Water (Without You I’m Not) Thoughts of a Fish in a Deep Sea, 3rd Biennial of Contemporary Art of Valencia, Valencia ____Fundacion La Caixa Collection, 20 years with Contemporary Art: New Acquisitions, Caixa Forum, Barcelona ____De lo Real y lo Ficticio: Arte contemporaneo de Francia, Museo de Arte Moderno de Mexico, Mexico City, traveling to Bass Museum, Miami ____None of the Above, Swiss Institute Contemporary Art, New York ____L’Eblouissement, Galerie Nationale du Jeu de Paume, Paris ____Contrepoint, Musée du Louvre, Paris ____Métamorphoses et Clonage, Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal, Montreal ____It Happened Tomorrow, 7th Lyon Biennale of Contemporary Art, curated by Le Consortium, Lyon ____Split, Sandra Gering Gallery, New York ____JRP Editions Selected Multiples, Galerie Edward Mitterand, Geneva traveling to Galeria Javier Lopez, Madrid & Raum Aktueller Kunst, Martin Janda, Vienna ____Coollustre, Collection Lambert, Avignon, curated by Eric Troncy ____25th edition of International Biennial of Graphic Arts, Ljubljana, Slovenia, curated by Christophe Chérix and Lionel Bovier ____Glass Wall, device conceived for Faits et Gestes, Atelier de mécanique, Parc des ateliers SNCF, Arles
____Audiolab 2, Palais de Tokyo, Paris ____Collections Croisées, CAPC, Bordeaux ____La Part de L’autre, Carré d’art, Nîmes ____Les Animaux Sortent de Leur Réserve, Centre Pompidou, Paris ____Sculpture Now, Palm Beach Institute for Contemporary Art, Palm Beach ____The Speed Art Museum, Louisville ____Optical Optimism, Galerie Simonne Stern, New Orleans ____Light X Eight, Jewish Museum, New York ____2002 Taipei Biennial: Great Theatre Of The World, Taipei Fine Arts Museum, Taiwan
____A New Domestic Landscape, Galeria Javier Lopez, Madrid ____Métamorphoses et Clonage, Musée d’Art Contemporain de Montréal
____Jour de Fête, Centre Pompidou, Musée National d’Art Moderne, Paris ____Xn00, Espace des Arts, Chalon-surSaone, curated by L. Bovier in collaboration with E. Lebovici, JC Masséra, S. Moisdon Trembley, H.U. Obrist, assisted by Nicolas Trembley ____Over the Edges, S.M.A.K., Gent, Belgium ____The Collective Works, Centre d’art Contemporain de Toulouse ____Art Unlimited, Art’31, Basel ____L’oeuvre collective, Les Abattoirs, Toulouse, curated by Pascal Pique ____Vivre Sa Vie, Tramway, Glasgow; curated by Tanya Leighton
Bibliography and Solo Exhibition Catalogues 2011
____ Free Fall, Xavier Veilhan, ed. Espace Louis Vuiton Tokyo, Paris
____Xavier Veilhan, Des expositions comme des paysages, ed. Beaux Arts éditions, Paris ____Xavier Veilhan 1999-2009, ed. JeanPierre Criqui, with texts by Jean-Jacques Aillagon, Jean-Pierre Criqui, Laurent Le Bon, Arnauld Pierre, Pierre Senges, Michel Gauthier, JRP | Ringier, Zurich
____Light Machines, ed. Les Presses du Réel
____Le Plein emploi, with texts by Michel Gauthier, Patrick Javault, Hakan Nilsson and John Welchman (in French and English), exhibition catalogue, Musée d’Art moderne et contemporain, Strasbourg ____Fantôme, with text by Fernandeo Casto Florez, Centro de Arte Caja de Burgos, Burgos
____Vanishing Point, with texts by Alison Gingeras and Christine Macel, Centre Pompidou, Paris
____Xavier Veilhan, with texts by Dan Cameron, Liam Gillick, Alison Gingeras, John Miller, Le Magasin, Grenoble
____Tableaux, 1997-1998, Center for Contemporary Art, Kitakyushu
____Xavier Veilhan, Centre de Création Contemporaine, Tours; FRAC Languedoc Roussillon, Montpellier; Consortium, Centre d’Art Contemporain, Dijon; Editions JRP, Geneva
____Xavier Veilhan, artist book, Galerie Jennifer Flay, Paris
____Un Centimètre Égal un Mètre, with texts by Eric Troncy, Liam Gillick (in French and in English), exhibition catalogue, A.P.A.C., Centre d’Art Contemporain, Nevers & Paris
____Xavier Veilhan: Un Peu de Biologie, with an interview by Nicolas Bourriaud (in Italian and in English), exhibition catalogue, Galleria Fac-Simile, Milano
Lord and Lady Salisbury would like to thank all those who have been involved in bringing about this exciting Franco-British project: _____Emmanuel Perrotin, Sandra Gering and Xavier Veilhan for the loan of these exceptional sculptures; _____Galerie Perrotin for its continuing support; _____Fluxus (The Franco-British Fund for Contemporary Art); _____Caroline Ferreira and Emeline Vincent of the Institut Français in London. Particular thanks to Xavier Veilhan, whose artistic vision has driven this exhibition, and to those who have brought it into being: _____The Atelier Xavier Veilhan: Diane Arques, Alexis Bertrand, Danielle Cardoso, Thomas Fort, Sophie Gaffori, Violeta Kreimer, Dimitri Mallet, Alessandro Moroder, Guillaume Rambouillet, Raphaël Raynaud, Tony Regazzoni, Laurent Pinon, Florian Sumi and Mahaut Vittu de Kerraoul for providing excellent educational, research and technical support _____The staff at Galerie Perrotin: Valentine Blondel, Héloïse Le Carvennec, Pamela Eschylles, Andrea Goffo, and Emmanuelle Orenga de Gaffory _____ Violeta Kreimer, Dimitri Mallet, Raphaël Raynaud and Florian Sumi, expertly aided by Dave Williams, John Gallagher and the team at Mtec for installation.
Thank you also to: _____Technical collaborators Enzyme Design, Fonderie Fusion, Art Stone Deco, TPP and Brionne Industrie. _____Nicholas Jeeves, for the excellent design of this book and his ongoing support of arts projects at Hatfield; _____Letizia Reuss for her assistance with the translation of texts; _____Bill Davis and Emtone Print for their dedication, patience and expertise in printing this book. Finally we would like to thank: _____Robert Burton, Arts Project Manager, Hatfield House; _____Nick Moorhouse, Director of Business Development, Hatfield House; _____The team at Hatfield, including Elaine Gunn and Cherise Fairman, and Head Gardener Alastair Gunn, for their important contribution to this project.