Marius Bercea | Blain Southern Gallery
Moving between Romania’s artistic and cultural capital Cluj-Napoca and his studio amidst the burgeoning bohemian districts of north Berlin, Adrian Ghenie is now one of the most established figures in the country’s line-up of contemporary artists. Since graduating from Cluj’s prestigious University of Art and Design in 2001, Ghenie has produced prolifically, featuring in exhibitions as far afield as Venice, Liverpool, Los Angeles and San Francisco. His works display a raw and visceral style that does well to disconcert the viewer with a cacophony of displaced lines, blurs, faceless figures and Kafkaesque portraiture. Many have been noted for their overtly clandestine political feel, which has in turn been linked to Ghenie’s own childhood experience of Romania behind the Iron Curtain.
The photographer Alexandra Croitoru was born in Bucharest in 1975 and graduated from the National Academy of Arts in 1998. She has since exhibited work in solo presentations in Copenhagen, Prague, Berlin and Vienna, and showcased pieces at the Biennial of Contemporary Visual Arts by Balkan Female Artists in Sofia, in 2003. Her work moves to challenge the traditional gender roles and prejudices towards women, focussing largely on the rendering of the feminine in the discourses of fashion and style.
Ciprian Mureşan was born in Romania in 1977 and studied at the Academy of Fine Arts in Cluj-Napoca, which he completed in 2000. Today he’s a senior editor of the IDEA art + society periodical and has exhibited in New York, London and at a number of Biennales, from Venice to Sydney. His work is highly politicised and takes a bold approach to examining the void between the communist and capitalist ideologies. He is particularly famous for his 2004 piece ‘Leap into the void – after three seconds’ and his multimedia work ‘Choose’ (2005), which critiques the dominance of free market ideals.
Criticising the divide between modernism and post-modernism and deconstructing the political status quo at every turn, the work of Cristi Pogacean has moved to question accepted ideas of authorship, power, belief and knowledge. Many critics have noted his proletariat style of creation, citing works like his 2006 piece, ‘The Abduction from the Seraglio’—a profound depiction of Romanian journalists after being captured by extremist forces in Iraq, made curiously ironic by the chosen medium of woven carpet. Others have looked to his startling ‘Obelisk’ from the 2007 Venice Biennale, which transforms that most classic of authoritarian monoliths into nothing more than an elaborate birdhouse.
Boasting award-winning works in the divergent mediums of dance, film, sculpture, painting and installation art, Mircea Cantor’s modernist reworking of the Duchamp style, complete with all its trademark surrealism, intriguing absurdity and Dadaist eccentricity, has risen to become one of Romania’s most unique contemporary exports. His works repeatedly challenge traditional artistic categories by displacing obvious subjects and their various interactions to whole new, and often unidentifiable, environments. For example, in 2005, his video piece Deeparture showed a wolf and deer confined together in a single space; simultaneously relating a new vision of the hunter and the hunted, and playing with the concept of climax or inevitability. Today, Cantor continues to work across various media, and lives between Paris, Berlin and his native Romania.
Famed throughout Romania for his curious sculptures and installation pieces, Rudolf Bone currently lives and works in the western city of Oradea. Although he’s oscillated between periods of inactivity over the last decades, Bone’s exhibits remain remarkable for their overarching use of found materials and descontructivist tendencies. Some of his best known presentations include his iconic tin-foil effigy of the human form and the dual selection of Megalopolis and Die that took centre stage at the avant-garde exhibit DICE (2010), at the Galeria Plan B in Berlin. Serban Savu’s magnetic portraits of rural and urban Romanian life convey a stage-managed snapshot of the country’s status quo, allowing the viewer a sort of cultural voyeurism that’s focussed on the nation’s untapped hinterland and nondescript metropolitan spaces. It’s particularly important that Savu chooses to obscure any personal elements of his paintings by removing discernible facial features from his subjects, as if the people here are entirely blind to the artistic lens that’s focussed upon them. Just as the workman in ‘The Balcony’ (2006), and the bathers from ‘Weekend 2’ (2007) are unaware of our gaze, so too are they unaware of the machinations of the great political morass that’s currently changing their beloved homeland—a homeland that’s depicted here with verdant bucolic beauty and civic cleanliness. See Serban Savu’s work at the David Nolan Gallery, 527 West 29th Street, New York, USA, +1 212 925 6190