Tursic & Mille are an artist duo whose practice responds to the contemporary excess of imagery and its relationship to historic pictorial representation. Their paintings and sculptural cut-outs draw from a vast range of historical and contemporary sources, abolishing hierarchies of style and subject to question what constitutes painting today.Read More
Ida Tursic was born in Belgrade, Serbia and Wilfried Mille in Boulogne-sur-Mer, France. The two met at the École des Beaux-Arts in Dijon and began collaborating in 2000, at a time when painting, and especially figurative painting, was widely considered unfashionable.
In their paintings, Tursic & Mille combine wide-ranging art historical references with imagery pulled from magazines, films, and the internet. By refusing to define hierarchies in their source material, Tursic & Mille draw associations between the history of painted representation and mass media imagery, alluding to the cycles of production, circulation, manipulation, and disappearance that both are engaged in.
Tursic & Mille draw just as fluidly from the work of Old Masters as they do from contemporary imagery, often appropriating the work of other artists and hybridising genres including landscape, still life, pornography, abstraction, and photography. Landscape (after Jheronimus Bosch St. Anthony's temptation) (2018) references Hieronymus Bosch's 16th-century triptych detailing the torments of Saint Anthony Abbot. However, in Tursic & Mille's iteration, the medieval village besieged by fire fades to daubs of paint in the lower left-hand corner of the canvas, dissolving into abstraction.
Just as Tursic & Mille disregard the categorical distinction that separates figuration from abstraction, the artists also blur the boundaries between high and low art. Tursic & Mille's 2021 solo show Strange Days at Galerie Max Hetzler in London demonstrated this collapse of source material and styles, in which pornographic portraits were displayed next to manipulated landscapes and abstract compositions. Including a painting for each month of the year, the exhibition featured Juliette la Pharmacienne (July) (2021), a full-frontal, realistically rendered nude depicted against an abstract background of gestural strokes of colour. In The Deer, The Doe and UFOs and Pink and Gold (December) (2021), a classical winter landscape is subverted with the addition of neon pink accents and visiting UFOs.
By translating and reconstituting a wide variety of imagery into the traditional domain of painting, Tursic & Mille render their sources into material of equal value, revealing painting—and in turn the mass circulation of images—to fundamentally be a process of abstraction, whereby the original referent is transformed.
In addition to paintings, Tursic & Mille also produce sculptural cut-outs, translating their repertoire of imagery into three-dimensional forms. These include the long-running 'Bichon' series, which feature life-sized cut-outs of realistically painted Bichon dogs that stand on small plinths or wheels, such as Happy Bichon (2018).
Tursic & Mille's sculptures also take the form of abstract compositions and large figurative assemblages, as seen in a set of large-scale cut-outs displayed at their exhibition as nominees for the 2019 Prix Marcel Duchamp. By moving into the physical space of the viewer, Tursic & Mille's cut-outs further challenge the boundaries of painting as a discrete and easily categorisable medium.
In 2019, Tursic & Mille were nominated for the Prix Marcel Duchamp. They presented the exhibition Before Becoming a Poodle, a Duck or Something Else at the Centre Pompidou that same year.
Tursic & Mille have been the subject of both solo and group exhibitions.
Solo exhibitions include Tenderness, Le Consortium, Dijon (2022); Strange Days, Galerie Max Hetzler (2021); and Paintings, Stiftung zur Förderung zeitgenössischer Kunst, Weidingen (2017).
Group exhibitions include Artistes à la Une Togeth'Her, La Monnaie de Paris (2021); Prix Marcel Duchamp 2019, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2019); Painting the Night, Centre Pompidou-Metz, Metz (2018); RUN RUN RUN, Villa Arson, Nice (2016).
Alena Kavka | Ocula | 2022