Gilles Mihalcean has been a self-taught sculptor since 1969. Though he spent a bit of time teaching at the Université Laval, he has devoted himself to his art since 1972.
As well as working on monumental pieces for public art projects and to integrate art to architecture, he also regularly presents his work in collective and special exhibitions. Since 1980, he has been one of the major names in the resurgence of sculpture. His work was showcased at the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal (1988) for contemporary sculpture exhibits and at The Power Plant in Toronto (1988). As a solo artist, his art was showcased in Montreal galleries and art centers (René Blouin, Chantal Boulanger, Roger Bellemare and Circa) as well as Canadian ones (Southern Alberta Art Gallery) and in New York (49th Parallel, Centre for Contemporary Canadian Art). In 1995, the Musée d’art contemporain de Montréal dedicated a retrospective exhibit to him, and was recently on display at the Musée d’art de Joliette (2007).
Mihalcean’s sculptural work is deeply lucid and leads us to more lurid and critical pieces. Time is a fundamental aspect of his art; may it be the time needed by the creator, the time token by the spectator when observing the piece and the time absorbed by history – visible in nearly all his art.
Mihalcean is known for his pieces filled with conceptual dichotomies which lead the observer to reflect. His pieces are often tripartite and the meaning that somebody could find in the close proximity between two elements is often shattered by the third. This principle is supported by the use of contrasting materials and many interrelationships. It also isn’t rare that the artist invite spectators to touch his sculptures and feel them in order to better understand them.
The artist imagines this sculpture as a large drawing, using the same form – the round stem – to construct each of the elements. By varying the diameter, position, organization, and assembly of these stems, figures are made to appear within this landscape, and seem to transmit the message that “everything is in everything.” Inspired by the time-honoured practices of Chinese painters, the lines and volumes draw us into its grandeur and spirituality, rather than directly representing the landscape. Each line suggests multiple ways of reading the work and can evoke, all at once, a branch, the outline of a mountain, or the movement of water or smoke. The aerial construction of elements provides an interesting visual point of access, regardless of the viewing angle and the time of day, as the sculpture will be lit up on all sides.