Whether they are figuratively defying gravity in Louis Vuitton’s Tokyo gallery space or physically breaking through a café ceiling in Paris, Xavier Veilhan’s works can’t help but garner hype. The French artist has turned his hand at everything from painting and photography to film and installation, but he is best known for his audacious sculptures.
His first major UK outdoor exhibition opens at Hatfield House on 7 April. Covering the grounds of the West Garden, 'Promenade' is a configuration of new site-specific pieces and recent greatest hits, such as 'Le Monument' - a startling red supremetist architectural space - and 'Les Rayons', a stunning, penetrable formation inspired by Fred Sandback and Jesús-Rafael Soto.
Colour is a main concern for Veilhan. He has tweaked the hues of some his previously seen works to give them new life at Hatfield House. ‘Vibration’, an inox steel composition based on the Amish horse and carriage, was first created in brown for the marble courtyard of the Shanghai World Expo, but now appears in a completely new shade of electric blue here.
It would be easy to compare this show to his much-lauded 2009 exhibition at Versaille, but Hatfield, with its leafy trees and natural garden foliage is an entirely different habitat to the structured formality of Versaille’s grounds. A giant aluminium horizontal statue of cosmonaut Youri Gagarine, for example, lies on its back entirely surrounded by grass - a strange but bucolic setting much unlike the stone floor in which it had previously been shown.
Indoors in the great 16th century Marble Hall, 'The Hatfield Mobile', a giant 21st century tangerine colour burst of an installation has been affixed to Giulio Taldini's ceiling and watches over 17th century Brussels tapestry and portraits of the likes of Queen Elizabeth I - a nice denoument to the anglo-french venture that has taken over Hatfield.