© Veilhan / ADAGP, Paris, 2024. Photo: Mengqi Bao. Courtesy of the artist and Perrotin.
15 mars - 25 mai 2024
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Perrotin Shanghai is delighted to present Sculpture Park, an exhibition by the distinguished French artist Xavier Veilhan. This exhibition, which marks Veilhan's second solo presentation in mainland China, intersects with the broad trajectory of his oeuvre, showcasing a new body of works predominantly realized between 2021 and 2023. Veilhan, whose practice encompasses sculpture, painting, installation, and photography, situates himself at the nexus of artisanal craftsmanship and technological innovation, challenging and extending the boundaries of traditional artistic mediums into the digital era. His work critically engages with the concepts of representation and the physical manifestation of ideas, driven by a continuous pursuit of innovation and experimental rigor.

© Veilhan / ADAGP, Paris, 2024. Photo: Mengqi Bao. Courtesy of the artist and Perrotin.
© Veilhan / ADAGP, Paris, 2024. Photo: Mengqi Bao. Courtesy of the artist and Perrotin.
© Veilhan / ADAGP, Paris, 2024. Photo: Mengqi Bao. Courtesy of the artist and Perrotin.
© Veilhan / ADAGP, Paris, 2024. Photo: Mengqi Bao. Courtesy of the artist and Perrotin.

When visiting the exhibition, visitors are greeted by blurred forms of human-shaped sculptures of varying heights and set against the backdrop of the artist's archetypical acrylic portraits on birch plywood, posits a critical counterpoint to the contemporary culture's voracious demand for high-resolution imagery. Whether through the tangible medium of sculpture or the ephemeral realm of images, Veilhan evokes a dreamlike aura of human presence, reminiscent of spectral figures haunting the urban environment, thereby challenging the primacy of pixelated precision in the current visual paradigm. Moreover, a series of small bird paintings (L’Oiseau series, 2022- 2023), recurring motifs within his work, summon the presence of non-human agency, articulating not only a sense of physical scale but also imbuing the works with allegorical significance.

Central to the exhibition is Mobile n°4 (2022), a monumental circular kinetic sculpture crafted from fiberglass, aluminum, and stainless steel, suspended from the ceiling. Its bold and compelling form engages in dialogue with the architectural dimensions of the gallery space, manifesting Veilhan's engagement with themes of modernity, technological progress, and mechanical systems. This 3.7-meter-long mechanical artwork, featuring colored lacquered discs, cryptically marks time with the activation of a metallic sphere within its apparatus. Veilhan's body of work is infused with a penchant for invention, a fascination with aerodynamic qualities, and a tribute to the lineage of kinetic art from the Futurism movement to the 1960s.

Noticeably, in Sculpture Park, a virtual reality work represents a significant moment in his exploration of unconventional exhibition methods, particularly advancing the examination of how visibility operates and the processes by which ideas are materialized. Sculpture Park offers a semi-retrospective look at Veilhan's extensive career, combining five key elements from his public sculptures, the mobiles, Architectones project, light-based machinery, and early environmental works like La Forêt (The Forest) and La Grotte (TheCave). These elements are not merely digitalized but are re-imagined and placed within a virtual setting that invites the viewer into an immersive, interactive experience. This shift from traditional man-made forms to a digitalized environment also highlights the evolving relationship between art and its audiences.

Sculpture Park, 2023. VR experience still. © Veilhan / ADAGP, Paris, 2024

Initiated nearly two years ago, the VR experience Sculpture Park offers an unparalleled opportunity for viewers to navigate a succession of relational environments, effectively functioning as a hyper-textual space that challenges conventional notions of the "movie theater" and prompts a critical reassessment of our perceptions of spatiality, form, and the participatory role of the audience within the art experience. In the space titled "Island of Dogs," viewers are confronted with a monumental canine sculpture featuring a mysterious blue portal that ushers them into an exhibition realm of static sculptures. This entrance, however, marks merely the initial layer of a Russian Doll-like configuration, revealing a nested world that blurs the lines between reality and virtual fiction, a mise en abyme that contemplates the duality of public and private spheres through the contrasting textures of the dog's silky exterior and its complex internal matrix.

Sculpture Park, 2023. VR experience still. © Veilhan / ADAGP, Paris, 2024

Furthermore, the soundscape curated by I: Cube for Sculpture Park extends Veilhan's fascination with auditory experiences and their capacity to surpass the confines of the purely visual, a preoccupation manifest in his celebrated environmental installation at the 57th Venice Biennale. Within the ambit of Sculpture Park, the soundtrack dynamically responds to the viewer's engagement and layering an additional psychological dimension over tangible and virtual environments. This aural intervention destabilizes the sleek modernist exteriors and the profound, often unavoidable, interior spaces' sensations, mirroring pop music's pervasive influence and cultural resonances.

© Veilhan / ADAGP, Paris, 2024. Photo: Mengqi Bao. Courtesy of the artist and Perrotin.

The VR universe I’ve created in Sculpture Park challenges the boundaries between 2D and 3D, while simultaneously reinforcing them. I am fascinated by the idea of a three-dimensional experience with two-dimensional elements, and playing with these visual representations forms a significant part of my artistic research.

— Xavier Veilhan

Veilhan's oeuvre navigates the visible and invisible territories, crafting an immersive realm that prompts a reconsideration of prior works through the prism of our perceptual boundaries. This effort into realms beyond the human, articulating a fluid and open conceptualization of the body as a site of unforeseen encounters and narratives, diverges from established societal conventions and the static identities typically imposed. His exploration of virtual domains unveils our cognitive landscapes, resonating with Gilles Deleuze's philosophy of an "ethics of becoming not unworthy of the event," advocating for a posture of receptivity and engagement with the transformative potentials that beckon us.

Sculpture Park, 2023. VR experience still. © Veilhan / ADAGP, Paris, 2024
© Veilhan / ADAGP, Paris, 2024. Photo: Mengqi Bao. Courtesy of the artist and Perrotin.

The VR experience Sculpture Park by Xavier Veilhan is commissioned by VIVE Arts, a global arts and technology initiative that supports artistic experimentation with nascent technologies, and developed by award-winning production company Atlas V.

The work will be open to the public to experience on Fridays and Saturdays, with booking slots on Fridays from 12:00-19:00 and Saturdays from 11:00-19:00, and one audience member will be invited to participate in the experience every full half hour. Please contact email shanghai@perrotin.com to make an appointment.


Né en 1963 à Lyon, France
Habite et travaille à Paris, France

Xavier Veilhan has since the late 1980s created an acclaimed body of work inspired by both formal classicism and high technology, including a range of mediums (sculpture, painting, installation, performance, video, and photography). His exhibitions question our perception and often generate an evolving ambulatory space in which the audience becomes an actor. For example, in Veilhan Versailles (2009), his series Architectones (2012-2014) or his proposition for the French Pavilion at the Biennale di Venezia, titled Studio Venezia (2017).

Xavier Veilhan’s work is often showcased in public space, with sculptures occupying numerous cities across France and abroad, including Paris, Stockholm, New York, Shanghai and Seoul, among others. His work has been shown in various acclaimed institutions across the world, such as the Centre Georges Pompidou (Paris), Mamco (Geneva), the Phillips Collection (Washington), Mori Art Museum (Tokyo), and MAAT (Lisbon).

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