If existence is, in the end, an alternation of sculptures and losses – since we all sculpt a path of life with our own materials, both innate and acquired -, the artistic life of Gilles Mihalcean, it , is in the hands of its materials and its tools. Because, he says, they are the ones who decide!
Humility often goes hand in hand with natural talent. This quality fully inhabits Gilles Mihalcean, who nuances his vocation and his artistic family heritage to assert that his art of sculpting is a combination between a first idea and the will of the materials to adopt it or not.
“Materials sometimes sulk,” he says, “and show their teeth. So, the idea gets out of hand! The artist must thus surrender to “their judgment”, because what appears under the wooden chisel can turn out, at a given moment, much more interesting than was the initial idea.
Therein lies the grace of Gilles Mihalcean, a designer with a style unlike any other and having chosen to be of his time without renouncing traditions. With an incredible freedom to sculpt, without constraints except, it seems, that of letting his gouges and knives speak for themselves and his works “mature” for months under protective veils …
Usually, it’s six months, a year, to see a work come to fruition. When I rediscover it later, I see something completely different, as if I realized something that I had not seen.
We can never say enough thank you to Isabelle de Mévius for orchestrating, with her team, such a delightful display of Gilles Milhalcean’s sculptures (pronounced mi-hal-céanne). One of the great sculptors of Quebec who, at 75, is still as brilliant, funny and moving in his approaches to art.
It is a great moment of happiness to savor the genius of an artist by having to bend his back or get on all fours to go and find the winks inserted in his sculptures. “You don’t look at a sculpture like you look at a painting,” says Gilles Mihalcean. There is something physical that makes you come back to it and always discover something. ”
The exhibition Turnarounds and diversions (de sens) is a walk around thirty sculptures. We are surprised when we contemplate these imaginary constructions, made up of assemblages of objects or totally stripped down. Works already seen, in particular Self-portrait of God (homage to my father), wood sculpture that was part of a collective exhibition, at the Montreal Museum of Fine Arts, in the fall of 2019.
But also recent works like Envelopes, whose motley aspect is intriguing. Its drape, inspired by the knee of the Compassion, by Michelangelo, is pierced with a hole through which we see the head of a character. Turning around the work, we see that this head has been “pierced” by a bullet fired from a revolver placed … under a small fountain.
We liked it too The man that Gilles Mihalcean created between 2017 and 2020. A sculpture of nearly 3 m in which juxtapose tools, a book, a camera, a broom, a pickaxe or even a propeller. Several works allude to cosmology, which is of great interest to the artist, such as Trouble to see, where a character gets lost between two black holes, falling into a chaos of pieces of chairs.
In the basement, were placed smaller rooms, such as Picnic, bronze of the MMFA around which we turn to understand the title. A tire imprint refers to the vehicle to go for a picnic. Holes in a cheese evoke the content of the meal and tree trunks, the resort. Playful, yes, the soul of the artist.
In the “safe” of the art center was suggested the workshop of Mihalcean. With a large photo from his studio. Some tools, like his small wood rasps, a bronze reminiscent of a crumpled sheet of aluminum, and old sculptures evoking his Quebecois grandfather and his Romanian great-grandfather who made religious icons and sculptures. “My emotion in sculpture dates from my grandfather’s period, in Sainte-Rose,” he said, while the grandfather’s attic was full of Christian sculptures.
From traditional values to modernity, with Mihalcean, we go from one form to another, from one emotion to another. “My work has evolved a lot,” he says. The experience is still magical. I see the material differently with a more monolithic angle, but not more academic for all that! ”
Free, he pursues his unique path, inspired by his fantasies and his favorite universes. Abundant universes from an artist who is still so young at heart. “I am not nostalgic. When I am in the workshop, I still have a lot to say, to do. I try to keep this happiness. The sculptures make me laugh. They also move me sometimes when I think I have achieved something. And there, it’s wonderful. ”