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Palace of Versailles Opens its Doors to Xavier Veilhan's Contemporary Sculptures
Château de Versailles is currently showing eight contemporary sculptures by French artist Xavier Veilhan, pictured here in his studio. Photo: EFE/Virginie Marielle.
PARIS.- How can works of art fit into an architectural complex and a landscape as symbolic as Versailles? As a good artist who cares about perspectives and systems of constructing representations, Xavier Veilhan has taken the liberty of staging a new painting in Louis XIV’s perfect setting, a fluid, dynamic trajectory focusing on relationships between scales, balances and observation points.

A glimpse of the works:

The Coach
The brazenly purple coach sits in the main courtyard, where its familiar shape is distorted by the dynamic wave, a veritable flash on the famous paving stones. When it speeds up, this strange carriage plays with references to Marey’s or Muybridgde’s late 19th-century photographic experiments breaking down movement. When the Grand Century meets modernity, the gallop turns into a coloured optical force.

The Architects
Oscar Niemeyer, Claude Parent, Richard Rogers, Sir Norman Foster, Renzo Piano, Tadao Ando, Jean Nouvel, Anne Lacaton and Jean-Philippe Vassal, Kazuyo Sejima, Elisabeth Lemercier and Philippe Bona

Because many famous minds have ambled up down these venerable paths and seen these perspectives, Xavier Veilhan wanted to add his personal touch, his pantheon of great architects, of whom Oscar Niemeyer and Claude Parent are the patriarchs.

This list of names includes great universal references, forging the relationship between the subjective and the generic that the artist cares about so much. There is a classic, full-length portrait of each great architect based on a cutting-edge digital scanning technology, but the monochromatic processing gives the outdoor gallery of portraits a ghostly, enigmatic look. The community of great builders, perching high atop rudimentary bases framing the surrounding landscape, gives the gardens’ central artery a new, dynamic axiality and naturally leads to the king’s point of view.

Xavier Veilhan
Whether using photography, sculpture, public statuary, video, installation or even the art of the exhibition, Xavier Veilhan structures his works around a backbone: the possibilities of representation.

One of his polymorphic approach’s most visible markers is the recourse to a treatment through the generic version of forms and objects, smoothed out, without detail or psychology. Veilhan’s figures are archetypes reduced to basics, prepared so that viewers can immediately project themselves in them and go beyond the stage of anecdote. Veilhan is fascinated by issues surrounding modernity and technological progress, as well as by mechanical systems and the construction of machines. From stereotype to prototype, the artist has muddied the waters by attacking standards. Mechanical modernity has crossed paths with Veilhan’s career, which started in the late 1980s and has continued to the most recent exhibitions. Veilhan offers huge environments the viewer can visit, always revealing the weight-bearing structure in order to completely strip away illusion: construction is what matters most in his art. Since the big installations of the late 1990s he has tried his hand at designing shows of his own works as well as those of other artists. The layout of exhibitions, from the garden of Versailles to the techniques of constructivist propaganda and the great universal exhibitions, is fertile analytical ground for the artist, who is interested in the orchestration of power and its iconographic materialisation.






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