Gilles Mihalcean: Des paquets d’histoires

Gilles Mihalcean
Des paquets d’histoires
Galerie Laroche/Joncas
January 13, 2016 – February 20, 2016

Sculpture is three-dimensional, sculpture is tangible; parts are added and parts are widdled away, but when we see the final product, we see all its angles and everything is laid bare. Québec-born artist Gilles Mihalcean, however, is throwing us off.

From one side of the aptly-named wood sculpture “Croyance,” I recognize the even grooves of the film rewind knob on my 35mm camera in licked silver paint. From the opposite side of the piece, I see a sawed-off index finger: smooth skin and rough nail, glossed over in beige. In Des paquets d’histoires, his second solo exhibition at Galerie Laroche/Joncas, Mihalcean creates a fantasy garden out of the unexpected meeting of recognizable objects.

A pile of objects (skull, plastic water bottle, tree branch) carved from natural wood protrude from clean lines and unblemished white; a tangle of pieces like broken chair legs provides the base for blocks of abstract shapes in shiny purple, orange, green. The nonsensical, and the interplay of curved and rigid forms, is cubism as spray-painted sculpture.

In the same way that Picasso’s guitar collages invoke heterogenous interpretation, Mihalcean’s exhibition inspires the discovery of narratives both in individual works and from piece to piece. The same-sized spherical chunk is missing from two different heads. After pondering this for a few moments, we have the beginnings for several novellas.

Although Mihalcean has been active since the era of Minimalism in the 1960s, and elements of his work refer to the style, his juxtapositions are compilations of complex forms. The canvas isn’t blank. The surface is just rough enough, the colors are just beyond kindergarten and not past 5th grade, so that poetry is inspired and imagination is derived from imagination.

An inspiration for contemporary Canadian artists such as David Altmejd, Mihalcean pioneered playful distortion in sculpture. Des paquets d’histoires is an opportunity to engage with creative influence.

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