Respublica acier, aluminium, cablage, ampoules 370 x 1240 x 150 cm, 2009.
For his first solo exhibition at Galerie West in the Netherlands titled Blue, White, Red, Black, French artist Nicolas Milhé (1976) presents a politically charged oeuvre that examines notions of nationalism, language and politicized individualism. The title of the exhibition plays off the colors of the French flag (the infamous symbol of ‘liberty’ bleu, blanc et rouge) and adds to it the color black, manifesting a dark and somber reality behind the quintessential French symbol of national pride.
Milhé is clearly an activist artist. In his work, he combines a pointed political message with an aesthetic design, resulting in objects that are characterized by a seething nucleus, loaded with symbols.Milhé is very much aware of the aesthetical strength of symbols of power. It is therefore not surprising that politics are the basis of his work. In Rennes, Milhé installed a 6 meter high concrete readymade in the city center, consisting of a thin vertical piece that ends in a broad base. Such concrete elements form, for example, in Jerusalem, the separation wall between Israel and the Westbank. One of his other striking works is ‘Meutrière’, a wall fragment in different variations, wherein Milhé mixes medieval architectural elements with modern production methods into an anachronistic symbol for two contrary perspectives, such as violence and protection.
L’Univers mixed media, 208 x 308 cm, 2007.
With ‘Respublica’, Milhé delivered a clear statement last summer. The work was exhibited, during the exhibition ‘Dynasty’, on the top of Palais de Tokyo before it was permanently installed on an abandoned grain storage in the city of Bordeaux. The monumental, enlightened installation of the two Latin words res and publica turned the location and its content into public matter. It is a silent but strong criticism of the structure of the republic and an expression of impossible efforts to physically localize a ‘homeless’ phenomenon.
Nicolas Milhé recently had solo exhibitions at, amongst other places, Frac Aquitaine, Bordeaux; La Vitrine, Paris; Buy-sellf Art club, Marseille and Galerie Corentin Hamel, Paris. He participated in group exhibitions at, amongst other places, Musée d’art moderne de la ville de Paris & Palais de Tokyo, Paris; Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Glass Box, Paris; Heidigalerie, Nantes; 40mcube, Rennes; Palace Contemporary Projects, Dublin; Villa Bernasconi, Geneva and West, Den Haag.
Sans titre 600 x 220 x 200 cm, Rennes, 2005.