"Melancholic Sunset"
October 10 - December 1, 2018
PILEVNELI Gallery is preparing to host Ida Tursic & Wilfried Mille’s solo exhibition titled “Melancholic Sunset” at its Dolapdere location from October 10th to December 1st, 2018.
There is an unexpected but indisputable analogy between the painting of Ida Tursic & Wilfried Mille and a chain of love letters a writer would address to literature itself. Ida Tursic & Wilfried Mille celebrate painting itself, dealing with its history, its major genres and styles, its secrets of fabrication. Their references run from the Renaissance to late 20th century, Tempi Madonna by Raphael to Cézanne's landscapes, from genre paintings by Manet to Christopher Wool abstractions. They go about their work with a wide range of feelings and considerations, from passion to critical distance, never forgetting the responsibility of their own painting.
Since they started working as an artist duo in 2000, one of the crucial elements in the work of Ida Tursic & Wilfried Mille is the suite of images they metamorphose into painting. Taken from magazines, movies, the internet or art books, all of theses images shape an impressive personal collection. Once hand oil-painted with the skill of a master, sometimes with an additional transparent silver layer, these images attain a new level of representation. They are henceforth paintings with aesthetic and critical depth that give flesh back to the world.
Having passed from the material to the spiritual world, some pin-ups, flowers, a portrait of David Hockney, a view of the English garden in the Michelangelo Antonioni's Blow Up or Lindsay Lohan cooking a pasta gratin, are then recovered – either completely or with only a few spots – by brush strokes and painting splashes, streaks and trickles over the canvas, in a large range of colors. By hiding or driving out these figurative patterns, in a pop art spirit close to Andy Warhol, Ida Tursic & Wilfried Mille highlight the simultaneous appearance and disappearance of the contemporary media image, its vanity.
This painting of the painting is spread across each floor of the gallery, at first thought of as a cosmology, a window opened on the world. On the basement floor, a great shaped painting in oil on wood, Melancholic Sunset, that gives its title to the show, is a kind of rococo landscape, both twirling and filling up with a contemporary romanticism. This work deliberately retains visible traces of quick and wide brush strokes and dripping, while several dozen empty bottles of beer filled with cigarette butts – drunk and smoked during its fabrication – have been put on top of the frame.
A constant attention in Ida Tursic & Wilfried Mille's paintings is the inclusion of their own process of fabrication, as if they wanted to show their own color palette, gestures and the interactions they required. This additional layer of abstraction, once again, celebrates painting and the creative act, seen as a time of freedom, where accident and chance have their role to play.
Melancholic Sunset dedicates a room to five declinations of Bettie Page, known as the « queen of pin-ups » in the 1950's. Her nudity and eroticism are never completely shown: they have been painted over. On one work, gestural abstraction and the superposition of layers reminds us of Albert Oehlen, while another evokes the ghost of Christopher Wool – sedimentation, tension between surface and depth, between figuration and abstraction.
Ida Tursic & Wilfried Mille often paint sunsets and fires, events that end one thing and announce the following, and chosen for their metaphorical ability to depict the appearance and disappearance of the media image. For this new exhibition, the fires of Hell in the background of The Temptation of St. Anthony by Hieronymus Bosch serve as a pretext to another triumph of the painting by the painting, in a room comprising three vertical paintings. The fire is painted in one work but barely appears in two of the works: the religious scene by the Flemish Primitive then becomes two abstract variations, where gestural painting explodes. At the center of these three great paintings, an oversized painting splash, shaped and mounted on wood, impresses by its presence.
Shaped paintings take an important place in recent works by Ida Tursic & Wilfried Mille. Displayed on the last gallery floor, the installation Exposition is inspired by a Francis Picabia drawing where a dog is looking at a nude girl from behind, while she is picking flowers. It clearly recalls Étant donnés : 1° la chute d'eau 2° le gaz d'éclairage…, the ultimate work by Marcel Duchamp, for its provocation, humour and voyeurism, except that in this case, the female upper body is replaced by a compact chaos of painting and colors that is both methodical and smeared.
It is precisely in all these metamorphoses that the painting of Ida Tursic & Wilfried Mille, that one could call metaphysical painting, reveals its open-mindedness quality and the desire to give a vision of the world. Ida Tursic & Wilfried Mille's work is mannered and complex; it always gives the last word to painting, which is definitely their favorite main character. These alterations where reality, representations and abstraction coexist, even if they are not mythological, have the same spirit as Ovid's Metamorphoses, the famous Roman author's narrative poem where world is made up of permanent metamorphoses.
Charles Barachon