At the heart of Xavier Veilhan’s current exhibition at Andréhn-Schiptjenko in Stockholm, is a long white gallery space, bright and empty save for two simple bannister-like shelves on either side, filled with some four dozen crisp slices of the trunk of a cedar tree. The pieces sit edge to edge, the tree’s growth rings of full view, and together they fill the gallery with wafts of the pungent natural scent of cedar. As the viewer walks through the show, certain poetic musings on the passing of time arise; these tree rings show many years and hold many memories.
The discs are aligned along the shelves in the order in which they were cut, so that if they were stacked upon one another, they would reform an original section of the tree. When viewing all these cross-sections at once, they each appear to capture a gesture in time, each one a deep cut, as if a person were performing dozens of different acts in a single moment. The installation allows the viewer to enter an unusual natural space, like a museum of dendrochronology.
Installation view of “Xavier Veilhan: CEDAR” at Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Stockholm. Courtesy of Andréhn-Schiptjenko and the artist.
Elsewhere in the gallery are several of Veilhan’s trademark mobiles that have brought him recognition around the world. A kind of antecedent of Calder, he makes kinetic works that drift quietly with the unseen drafts that pass through the gallery. Other sculptures, constructivist in nature but softer and gentler in color, populate the gallery like strange geometric figures.
The exhibition is a beautifully quiet experience, both natural and kinetic; the experience conjures a nature walk through a sculpture garden. And that’s the sort of utopian vision Veilhan has become known for.
“Xavier Veilhan: CEDAR” is on view at Andréhn-Schiptjenko, Stockholm, November 12-December 19, 2015.