Ida Tursic & Wilfried Mille

by flaunt

Part of our artist portfolio from the Oh La La Land issue
Painters Ida Tursic and Wilfried Mille started working together in 2000, and are truly a partnership in that both work on each painting simultaneously. With references and source material ranging from pornography, movies, magazines, and the internet, their work reimagines the history and genre of painting as it exists in the 21st century. “At that time in our lives, we were fascinated with Piet Mondrian and de Kooning, with horizontals, verticals, colors, and yes, with some curves… The huge size of paintings puts the spectator inside the paintings; large formats imply that first of all, the paint is carnal and generous, and on the other hand that the viewer is fully immersed in what might be called large geometric paintings, and at other places in gaping, figurative voids. Pornography claims to show everything, to give everything to see. Since we were painters, it seemed obvious to us at the time that this was the way, the very subject of painting: to give everything to see, at the risk of showing that there is nothing to see.”

Why do you choose to work in oils? 

It comes naturally. With oils, you can work and make modifications to what you are doing over several days… and painting is a question of time, painting is time, when you look at a painting, you look at the materialized form of a lapse of time. We are not looking for something that would be fast, because the solution is embedded in time, we need time and oil to modify and transform the work. We can also use printers.

What do you think about first instincts versus weighed decisions?

First instincts are the engine, the desire; weighed decisions are what allows to finish making the thing.

Has the act of creation become harder or easier over time?

Easier! When you make things, there are plenty of devices, plenty of peripheral things that can happen unexpectedly and accidentally.

If you accept them into your practice, then the work is still alive; the practice feeds itself. We have decided we would take into consideration any idea that would come from the other one; it allows us to do things that we would never have done separately, if on our own… Then, together we select which paintings we want to make, which ones we wish to keep, which ones we want to put in storage; and which works we want to burn down. Sometimes, things take years before they are totally done; some paintings can wait for several months or even years for a way to finish them to be found. We have also become, in another way, more demanding with the way we paint, the texture, the final way of finishing things. For us, painting today cannot be reduced to a question of style, or to whether it belongs to either one of the two categories of paintings that used to be so famous, abstraction or figuration. Painting isn’t “either this or that,” painting is “this and that.”

What does beauty mean to you?

Something that is, literally, awesome, that would trigger that overwhelming state of being in awe.

It’s hard to say, our painting has always been based on two principles: prostitution, from the Latin Pro Statuere, which means placed in front, and obscenity, also from the Latin, meaning outside the scene. Before, we used these principles with our choice of images; maybe we felt the need to awaken the painting, to bring it forward. Now, it's painting itself, its texture that comes upfront, where it takes the risk of covering the image over, which brings in the process, the “making of” the picture.

What is to be seen when you’re looking at a painting? How can a painting talk about something other than itself?

At the Pompidou Center in Paris, Picasso’s "Sharpshooter" made me want to become a painter, yet on that same day I saw a [František] Kupka’s painting I truly hated, which today I like very much.

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