Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art announces its fall 2014 exhibition
`Defaced`- featuring works by eight Romanian figurative painters.
On view October 2, 2014–January 18, 2015, the exhibition examines how these artists explore Romania’s past and present in their works. Defaced presents works by Teodora Axente, Marius Bercea, Răzvan Boar, Zsolt Bodoni, Dumitru Gorzo, Şerban Savu, Mircea Suciu, and Dan Voinea.
The exhibiting artists are part of a younger generation of Romanian artists who have gained international attention over the last decade. Primarily from the country’s two largest cities, Cluj-Napoca and Bucharest, these artists embrace a traditional approach to painting, a medium widely proclaimed obsolete by the latter part of Western 20th-century art history. They testify to an intrinsic value of painting by demonstrating the ability of the medium to reinvent itself.
Born in the shadow of the Iron Curtain and witness to its brutal demise in 1989, this generation, now in their 30s-40s, grew up in a post-communist society. These artists experienced a culture haunted by the psychological trauma of the past and troubled by the sudden onset of consumerism. They consciously and subconsciously incorporate these experiences into their works. While each artist adopts a distinct style, they all integrate explorations of Romania’s past and present into the imagined realities of their paintings.
The works on view comfortably navigate between chaos and order, abstraction and figuration, and past and present. The eight artists do not seek answers in their work, but rather they use paint to explore complex topics and questions. Boiling with palpable tension, many of the works present uneasy subject matter and charged exchanges between fragmented spaces and bodies. Unresolved narratives, energized brushwork, and dark palettes create dream-like scenes with almost post-apocalyptic tones. A distinct post-socialist reality in each painting is blended with elements of contemporary Romanian life. Remnants of the communist regime appear in architectural motifs, which are layered with images from art history, films, literature, and the Internet. Through their works, the artists simultaneously construct and deconstruct individual and collective memories and identities.
The paintings presented in this exhibition convey the shared tendency of these artists to cover, blur, or subvert the faces of figures. Faces are buried under paint; positioned to distort a full view; and even completely abstracted, leaving the figure intentionally anonymous. The characters are fully absorbed in a world that we cannot access, but there is a sense of isolation and insecurity that is relatable. Our own insecurities emerge as we experience the unsettled and troubled nature of the work.
By comparing the works in `Defaced`, it becomes clear that the artists are concurrently exploring identities of a post-communist world and the social condition of individuals in the age of consumerism. The work is contently and purposefully unresolved. The only answer that the artists willingly give us is that human nature is inevitably fallibile.