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#24-25 Hybrids

2017

Hybrids – art from inside the cyclone

 

With this issue, Revista ARTA attempts an experiment – perhaps a risky one – regarding both the theme and the design. To discuss hybrids, hybridisation, hybridity in the current status of the Romanian art scene, as young curator & art critic Cristina Bogdan, our coordinator, proposes, does not lack showiness, perhaps courage, certainly an amount of danger. Hybridity may seem like an umbrella term for contemporary art, a notion both obvious and difficult to refine in its conceptual ramifications and its psychological, cultural and social effects. Hybridity defines the ecclectic mix of artistic techniques and genres, the suprising articulation of modes of action and aesthetic theoretisation, as well as the ingenious blending of cultural & non-cultural codes and references which the artistic production of the past 10 years has made us witness. A practice embraced by the radical wing of the new generation of artists and critics from Romania and elsewhere, hybridisation refers to a programmatic and fluid transgression of the various aesthetic barriers left standing after modernisms and postmodernisms, to a productive mix between abstract discourse and relational and sociologic gestures in art, in order to invent possible evolution scenarios. It highlights the dominance of super-conceptual artistic actions which chose the amalgam of natural, artifical and virtual to put forth provocative means of questioning the world in socio-political terms. Finally, hybridity announces an ambiguous paradigm change in the contemporary art world, towards an apparent dilution within an immanent philosophy of “art without art”, aiming to rescue the efficiency and relevance of the artistic in a world seen as increasingly relativised and banal, ruled by financial capital. And yet a new, fascinating world.

The texts in this issue of Revista ARTA will inform you, in a highly theoretical style and a language which is itself new, about singularities and performativity, about the destabilising and desirable collision between mediums and disciplines, about Esthetic Entities coming from the future and works which address, modify or create their own conditions of existence, about alienating strategies, about the political & creative hacking of existing codes – in a word, about the need of contemporary art to configure its “own form of hybridity, between the conceptual and the aesthetic”. You will also learn about concepts, actions and projects (additivist litterature, Second Artworld, Second Body, Dead Thinking, Eternal Feeding, End Dream, Black Hyperbox, Postspectacle, institutional hybridity, etc.) of specific artists and groups, in Romania and elsewhere, for whom this practice is symptomatic.

In an artistic world with many cultural speeds – polarised between generations, urban centres and various artistic groups, working on one hand with leftovers of modernism and postmodernism, attempting on the other hand new fluid and ambiguous forms of integrating an immediate reality, non-representable with traditional artistic means, part of a global socio-political problematics – to discuss such artistic phenomena, apparently marginal but in fact situated right at the centre of the cyclone, becomes not a risk, but a duty. Or rather, a commitment.

 

Magda Cârneci, Editor-in-chief

#22-23 The (post)graphic image

2016

Graphic arts, a necessary reconsideration

The dossier of this issue of Revista ARTA is part of those which our editorial team dedicates to various visual disciplines, be they traditional or recent, with the aim to offer a concentrate but symptomatic panorama of the state of visual arts in Romania and, if possible, in our geographical neighbourhood. Although multivalent by its numerous classical techniques, graphic art seems not to have got the status it deserves, i.e. of major art, in spite of the fact that the innovations brought about by the techno-sciences and the predominance of the visual in all forms of communication should push us to reconsider it.

But this Revista ARTA dossier, coordinated by Ciprian Ciuclea, himself a multidisciplinary graphic artist, does not speak about the relation between graphic arts and advertising, mass-media or internet. It is more like a quick review of what graphic art meant for the Romanian scene before and after 1989, with its artists, exhibitions, and places that defined its territory. It is even more about what has happened with graphic arts in the last twenty years, within the present-day civilization dynamism, wherein a continuous redefinition of concepts, techniques, and problematics takes place, as well as a permanent hybridization with other forms of artistic action, and a contamination with multimedia and informational technology. All these characteristics place graphic arts under the sign of a generalized experimental mentality, which assumes uncertain, haphazard, and virtual visual formulas, an opening towards the social and the politics, as well as a post cultural condition in the attempt to vividly capture the enormous pulse of our contradictory, ever changing reality.

Magda Cârneci, Editor-in-chief

#20-21 Conceptualism in Eastern & Central Europe

2016

Conceptualism in Eastern and Central Europe

 

This issue is dedicated to a theme that has been expected for a long time now: conceptualism in the Romanian and East-European visual arts. This trend which appeared in the West in the context of the reevaluation of classic modernism during the post-war neo-avant-gardes of the 1960s has become a sort of compulsory aesthetic paradigm in the last decades. More and more inclusive and diluted, conceptualism deserves an applied and exigent analysis nowadays. Set under the sign of an intransigent purism coming from Duchamp’s provocation from the beginning of the last century, but also influenced by the intellectual debates of the 1960s, conceptualism has reduced the artwork and the artistic action to their rational, logic, idea-centered essence – an essence “freed” of the traditional elements of “sensoriality”, expressivity, affective resonance, cultural symbolism etc. Nevertheless, in contact with the historical texture of each cultural space, conceptualism has arrived progressively to mix with numerous local influences which have given very different, even contradictory, colors to its content. The capacity of conceptualism to radically deconstruct ideological, linguistic, or visual mechanisms has transformed it into a favorite instrument of the most interesting East-European visual artists in their resistance against the political system. The file of this issue of Revista ARTA – coordinated by art critic and theoretician Cristian Nae – intents to demonstrate with the help of several brilliant texts signed by well-known Romanian and East-European commentators, how conceptualism has evolved in this cultural area towards a more hybrid and impure formula – but a formula which is succulent and very charged semantically (and politically). This is a way of transforming the disadvantage of a marginalized geo-strategic position and cultural provincialism into an advantage rooted in an incredible, even exceptional, cultural and spiritual richness.

 

Magda Cârneci, Editor-in-chief

#19 UAP Awards

2016

The true value of certain awards

 

Let us tell the truth: the force and quality of contemporary visual arts in Romania do not have the visibility and recognition they deserve in the local public space. In a culture traditionally centered on literature, and recently more oriented towards the spectacular-performing arts which attract a large public, visual arts are a sort of Cinderella that has to demonstrate all the time its value and utility. Nevertheless, starting with Brâncuși in the past and up to Adrian Ghenie in the present, the most famous and expensive artists of Romanian origin were (and are) visual artists. Moreover, the vitality of the young visual scene in Bucharest and in other Romanian cities is astonishing and very promising, although little reflected in the mass-media.

That is why we are dedicating the thematic file of the issue no.19 of Revista ARTA to the 2015 Awards of the Union of Visual Artists of Romania (UAP). Resumed after eight years, with the help of the Ministry of Culture, these awards represent a sign of normality in a convulsive socio-political reality. These sixteen awards were conferred to well-established artists belonging to different visual domains, but also to several gifted young artists, and they all deserve our recognition.

We also wish to believe that these awards demonstrate a new interest of the authorities for an artistic field which was deprived of correct institutional support and funding so far. But, beyond recognition and respect, Romanian visual culture needs much more, in fact: a National Fund for contemporary art, created by annual acquisitions of art works, and a big International Biennial of visual arts in Bucharest, supported by the same Ministry of Culture, would be the two projects that could render to the visual arts their true importance.

 

Magda Cârneci, Editor-in-chief

#18 Sound Art

2016

The cultural value of sound

 

Maybe visual artists and the public at large will be astonished to notice that the current issue of Revista ARTA is tackling a topic such as sound art – and not a strictly visual topic. But in our times of trans-mediality, where all sensorial combinations and techno-artistic hybridizations are possible, getting closer to the sound space in which we are all immersed becomes not only obvious, but necessary. We need to become more conscious of the countless forms of soundscape to which we have access and which model us unconsciously, not only because the present-day visual and curatorial practices have used for decades now the relationship with sound in installations, video art, performances etc, but because sounds have become an essential, even overwhelming dimension of our lives, just as much as the visual dimension. We live not only in a unchained civilization of the visual, but also in a civilization of sounds, noises, sonorities, music that is increasingly mixed, sophisticated and all-pervasive. That is why we need a culture of the sonorous identity of our contemporary existence – with its democracy, facilitations, excesses and dangers – as much as we need a culture of the visual, which has in fact entered earlier in our common habits. Taking the pretext of the Sound Week in Bucharest from March 2016, the thematic file of this issue of Revista ARTA proposes, under the coordination of Anamaria Pravicencu and Octav Avramescu, a fascinating incursion into the territories of sound art, radio art, radio theater, visual-sonorous installations of all kinds, for a forceful initiation in the culture of hearing. This culture is important not only for musicians, sound engineers, film producers, ecologists, psychologists or anthropologists, but also for visual artists and visual specialists – since sound is, paradoxically, a key-element for our visual perception. And sound creation is an important part of the complex multisensory performance in which we live continuously, not only in the white cube of art galleries and museums, but also in our everyday life.

 

Magda Cârneci, Editor-in-chief

#16-17 Glass Art

2015

Glass Art

Following the dossier dedicated to contemporary ceramics in the issue no.13 of Revista ARTA, it became obvious, even necessary to us o propose a dossier dedicated to contemporary art glass in this double issue 16-17 of our magazine. Bearing a vertiginous process of emancipation from the strict domain of an applied, “decorative” occupation, art glass is heading nowadays in a spectacular manner towards major approaches, proving its conceptual and expressive capacities in such areas as the sculptural, the monumental, ambient, installation. Through its diverse techniques, more and more sophisticated – blown glass, modeled at warmth, glass produced through fusion and baking, optical crystal etc – today’s art glass is adding new experimental and scientific parameters to its traditional expressivity related to light, transparency, and unpredictability. Coordinated by art critic Aurelia Mocanu, the dossier we are proposing in this issue is offering a symptomatic radiography through the present-day state of this difficult and fragile art, by questioning well-known glass artists, from Romania and abroad, and by trying to take the pulse of the domain’s international state through a series of theoretical, more general texts.

 

The Venice Biennial 2015

The second dossier of this issue, aiming at reviewing the recently closed Venice Biennial of visual arts, is coordinated by art critic Daria Ghiu. The 56th edition of Venice Biennale is discussed in our pages by curators, gallerists, and art commentators, from Romania and abroad, such as Mihai Pop, Edit Andras, Diana Ursan, Eleonora Farina, Gabor Andrasi a.o. The accent is set on the two Romanian participations in this edition: Darwin’s Room, by Adrian Ghenie, curator Mihai Pop, at the Romanian Pavilion – and Inventing the Truth. On Reality and Fiction, a group exhibition curated by Diana Marincu at the Romanian Institute for Culture and Humanistic Research in Venice. This second exhibition showed young artists such as Michele Bressan, Carmen Dobre-Hametner, Alex Mirutziu, Lea Rasovszky, Ștefan Sava, and Larisa Sitar. The conclusion of the analyses and comments are encouraging: the existence of two „national” projects create the possibility of a dual presentation, which offers a expanded and more nuanced perspective on what contemporary Romanian art “which matters internationally” means.

 

Magda Cârneci, Editor-in-chief

#14-15 Performance in Eastern Europe

2015

Performance Art is Alive

Performance art is not dead, as some people would like to have it! This is the good news brought by the main dossier of this double issue of Revista ARTA. Under such names as happening, processual or performative art, situationist or contextual art, actionism or corporal / body art, performance art has remained since the 1960s maybe the most direct, incisive, and cutting-edge form of artistic expression of the last decades. Positioned at the cross-point between the visual, the discursive, and the theatrical, involving the artist with his/her entire physical, psychological, and spiritual being, in front of the public or together with it, performance art has not yet run out of resources in the context of the last years, when other forms of visual intervention have become more fashionable. Since the 1960s, performance art has represented a form of protest of the artists against the aesthetic establishment, accelerated muzeification, and the consumerism of the art market. The dossier coordinated by Ileana Pintilie demonstrates all these assertions, but also underlines the emancipating dimension performance art has had in the former communist countries of Eastern Europe – the fascination and fear which totalitarian regimes developed in front of this provocative form of social and artistic non-conformism.

 

Art Encounters Biennial

The second dossier of this issue, coordinated by Sorina Jecza and dedicated to the recently closed Art Encounters Biennale of Timisoara, sheds some light on the resurgence of a large and important city into the more and more dynamic and competitive field of visual arts in Romania. Taking place in multiple locations, highlighting non-conventional spaces, and reaching social communities very little involved in such cultural actions so far, the Art Encounters Biennale – under the direction of the two main curators, Nathalie Hoyos and Rainald Schumacher – was a success. Under the title “Appearance and Essence”, this biennale proposed not only a concentrated image of the most original, individual and collective, visual projects of Romania’s last decades. It was also a demonstration of the capacity of present-day Romanian visual artists to integrate, with their own specificity, the global artistic network.

 

Magda Cârneci, Editor-in-chief

#13 Romanian Contemporary Ceramics

2015

I think the moment has come for Revista ARTA to dedicate a consistent thematic file to one of the most dynamic arts in the present-day Romanian visual world. Ceramics has been for some time now in an alert process of demarginalization, of leaving behind its traditional retirement and discretion to get in the middle of today’s formal battles. There is nowadays a more and more offensive and wide-spread consciousness that the decorative can represent, in all its forms of expression, a major artistic exercise, a visual research as complex, elaborate and open towards superior senses as any other modality of practicing the artistic impulse.

From the traditional pole to the avangardist one, new practical procedures have explosively dynamized this ancient art of fire: digital technologies, mixed-media, multimedia, 3D printing, but also “author’s techniques” invented by the artists themselves for new materials and chemical processes. All this confers to the domain of ceramics an active experimental dimension, extremely diversified and personalized.

The freedom to try everything, interdisciplinarity, the transfer between artistic techniques and visual currents be they modern or postmodern, have explosively marked this art of the clay, sandstone, and porcelain. In its field one can notice nowadays the existence of such tendencies as conceptual or historicist ceramics, installation and sculptural ceramics, experimentalist and cultural quotation ceramics etc, combined in the most diverse and inventive manners. The present-day impetuosity of ceramics is proved as well by the fact that it is practiced – as an art of interior or as an art of public spaces, with assumed social dimensions – by more and more artists coming from unexpected domains of action.

The current emancipation of ceramics at an international level – evident in the number of biennials and big exhibitions, in specialized art magazines and art fairs, but also in the global professional community sustained by blogs and social networks on internet – this emancipation is equally obvious at our local level. The special file of this issue of Revista ARTA wants to demonstrate that Romanian ceramists have now a more intense consciousness of their possibilities of a major creation and cultural recognition and that Romanian ceramics can and wants to play a more visible role in our society.

 

Magda Cârneci, Editor-in-chief

#12 British Art

2014

This issue’s thematic dossier is something quite new in comparison with the usual format of Revista ARTA. After previous issues dedicated to visual genres (painting, sculpture, photography, urban art), to local schools of painting (the Cluj school of grey, the 1980s generation), to movements like postmodernism and feminism, or to international events like the Venice Biennale, we thought it might be interesting, and even useful, to open the pages of our magazine to the international art milieu, in order to allow a better knowledge, in Romanian, of some prestigious and influential national art scenes.

And what could be more tempting nowadays than British art, with its creative spirit, so unleashed and provocative, and its competitive taste, so courageous and dangerous? The world of visual arts in London remains for the time being – as the famous City district for the financials – a sort of Mecca of our domain, to which lots of artists, gallery owners, dealers and curators from all parts of the world are constantly attracted, whether they are established or beginners. Are not the universities of London the most coveted in the world, towards which a river of students of all nationalities flow in haste every year ? From the YBA (Young British Artists) generation, from the 1980s up to the present, the language of visual and commercial radicalism in art is the Londonian, the same way as the lingua franca of today is and remains English.

We owe to our young collaborator Cristina Bogdan, Lecturer in Art Theory in London, this extremely interesting thematic dossier about the British art world, with its ups and downs, wherefrom many Romanians will have something to learn, be they artists, professors, curators, critics, historians, or gallery owners. Produced with personal efforts and without any sponsorship from a British institution, the file can be an extremely useful instrument for either a young aspirant, to prepare him or her for the British utopias and sirens, or for a mature person, to comfort him or her from the illusions of a place too much dreamed of not to hide in it the warning of a famous Latin formula: Hic sunt leones!

 

Magda Cârneci, Editor-in-Chief

#11 Feminisms

2014

Consistent with its initial program to scan those themes that seem stringent to our artistic actuality, ARTA tackles now the area of feminisms in the Romanian and Central-East-European visual region, and partially in the Western world. We speak of feminisms in the plural as after the combative and politically engaged feminism of the 1970s, what followed was a more and more diversified and nuanced deployment of a multitude of debates on social, cultural, regional, post-colonial and national issues, carried on within the central topic of gender and sexual politics of the paradigmatic feminism.

In the dossier of Revista ARTA, coordinated by art critic and curator Olivia Nițiș, a first set of texts debates on theoretical aspects of feminist trends in the Anglo-Saxon world, wherefrom feminism has started, and in the Central-Eastern European world where we live. A series of texts follows that recuperate the history of feminist attitudes – not very numerous, but substantial – in the Romanian visual arts of the last twenty years. At last, a final section of the dossier sheds light on recent and alternative r/evolutions to the feminist mainstream, which take into account queer, ecologist and leftist positions of the young generation.

Without being exhaustive, this issue of Revista ARTA intends to give the pulse of a cultural and artistic phenomenon which becomes more and more visible in Romania. After the pioneering issue of Artelier art magazine in 1999/2000 devoted to the same theme, this issue no.11 of Revista ARTA confirms, at 15 years of distance, the vitality of a domain of reflection which, without being central in the local debate of ideas, has contributed a lot to the humanist and aesthetical refinement of our present-day sensitivity and to the integration of Romanian visual production into a large international context.

 

Magda Carneci, Editor-in-chief

#10 Venice Biennale

2013

It was probably inevitable for us to dedicate the special dossier of this issue of Revista ARTA to the Venice Biennale of this year. Obviously, because it is the most important event of this kind in the global visual world, but also because the theme of this 55th edition was simultaneously fascinating and intriguing. Under the title “Encyclopedic Palace”, we witnessed a selection of artists și artworks which seems to go against the general visual trend of today, marked by so much (post) conceptualism, sociologism / (eco) relationism, and a pragmatic formalism with commercial undertones.

On the contrary, what we could see in Venice this year was an inverse selection so to say: artworks and attitudes which are envisioning an impossibility – the visual image tempting an integral figuration (and trans-figuration) of the world, an Imago Mundi, the effort of certain artistic (and non artistic) brains to catch through visual forms those elements often invisible (as being subconscious or superconscious) which are structuring our coherent understanding of reality. The selection of this Venice Biennale privileged, after a long time of absence, those visual poetics that are focalized on the subtle relationship of the self with the world, the dialogue of the profound psyche with the universe: in other words, those visual discourses obsessed mostly with the “inner image”, so important for our good psychic evolution and so badly overwhelmed by the huge diluvium of external images in which we are living.

Artistic as much as anthropologic, spiritual as much as ethnographic, poetic and scientific, “passeist” and futurist, imaginative and visionary, The Venice Biennale of 2013 has meant a challenge for our recent visual habits. The special dossier of this issue of Revista ARTA – coordinated by Diana Marincu and Anca Mihuleț – has addressed this challenge in texts signed by contributors from Romania and abroad, who take into discussion also several national pavilions, among which the Romanian one which was very successful.

 

Magda Carneci, Editor-in-chief

#8-9 Sculpture

2013

How do sculptors understand themselves and how is sculpture perceived on the cultural scene of today’s Romania ? Even if marked by the aesthetic transformations of the last more than twenty years as any other visual genre, sculpture seems a little bit out of the public attention, if it is not about monuments of a debatable taste ordered by the political power in place. More determined by its material conditioning and by its apparently “atemporal” link to space, sculpture seems to have developed a tortuous, even tensioned relation cu modernism and postmodernism. Nevertheless, after the years 1965-1989, a period which gave several important names to this medium, Romanian sculpture has evolved and transformed itself constantly, and new names and provocative formulae have appeared, of which this issue of Revista ARTA intends to offer testimony.

In the first chapter of the issue, the texts of the dossier coordinated by Adriana Oprea set themselves intentionally under a more restrained, “implosive” definition, that of modernist sculpture and of its continuation up to the present by several new and strong names. In the second chapter, this perspective is completed by an enlarged, “expanded” definition of sculpture, in the sense given by Rosalind Krauss to this sintagm. An art inquiry sums up the opinions of twelve Romanian sculptors about their production in the last more than twenty years; to this the answers of several sculptors of Romanian origin living abroad are added. The “explosive” sense of contemporary sculpture is also illustrated by several examples of Romanian art galleries focused on sculptures and by several examples of curatorial projects that tackle new ways, more circumstantial and temporary, of placing sculptural objects in the public space.

Even if it only re-opens the taste for an artistic medium which is more disvantaged than others by the economic and political crises of today, I thing this issue of Revista ARTA proves, even if succintly, that sculpture remains a major genre in the contemporary art of Brancusi s original country.

 

Magda Cârneci, Editor-in-chief

#6-7 Photography in the context of Romanian art schools

2012

This issue on photography intends to offer a possible synthetic image of the multiple ways in which this dominant, even ”imperialistic,” medium is understood and utilized in nowaday’s Romanian art. After six years from a previous collective volume dedicated to this subject, Revista ARTA invited the best-known Romanian visual artists, critics, and curators who dealt with photography, to collaborate in this issue, consistent from many points of view. The two coordinators of the issue – Iosif Király and Simona Dumitriu – have conceived a transversal section through a very arborescent domain: from the presentation of the departments of photography within the main universities of art in Romania to the pre- and post-1989 history of this medium in the local visual arts; from projects of well-known artists to projects of still young and student artists; from essays and theorical texts on photography to the analysis of the modalities in which this medium has been used in the interdisciplinary research. If we add to all this the interviews, the exhibition reviews, the reviews of books of art, and the art inquiery, all of them mostly dedicated to the same common denominator of the issue – we hope the image proposed by Revista ARTA of the complex way photography dominates and permeates the present-day Romanian visual scene becomes consistent and credible.

 

Magda Carneci, Editor-in-chief

#4-5 The 80s Generation in Visual Arts Twenty Years Later

2012

This issue’s theme was born from an obvious observation. Even though it reached the age of consecration, the 80s generation of visual arts doesn’t have the same public recognition (or knowing) like that of literature, which generated the (disputed) concept of the literary eighties. Although it produced concepts of its own like the “neo-expressionism” or the “intermedialism”, along with the famous and controversial “postmodernism”, the 80s generation of visual arts doesn’t seem to be a “front” as coherent and compact as its literary counterpart.

In the post-communist upheaval of the 90s and in the economic boom of the 2000s, the visual eighties artists placed themselves in between the mature generation that kept control over several levers of institutional power, and the young and very young generations that knew the privilege of new foundations, centers, galleries and curators that showed up in the meantime, either in the country or abroad, always looking for “alternative art”.

As opposed to their literary brothers who had a sufficiently abundant exegesis and a sort of “classification” in these last 20 years, all because literature was predominant in the Romanian cultural field, the eighties practitioners of visual art had to make due in difficult work conditions and make up inconvenient and atypical professional trajectories, oscillating between working within the country and working abroad, all this while having the most unusual side jobs. This is why the fulfilment of their art is less evident. It is true that the eighties artists had a small appetite for public life. They appeared to be marked by a psychology of marginalization, perhaps coming from behavioral reflexes inherited from before 1989. Even though they were hard working and productive, assuming discreet roles on the institutional stage while building solid careers, the way the visual eighties artists were seen suffered, not cause of the coming together of their own works, but because of the wide cultural reception of their art. And still, the 80s generation of visual arts has a few big names, some of which known abroad, that deserve to be recognized by the wider audience, at least as much as the literary artists. Here are some of these artists in no particular order: Dan Perjovschi, Ioana Bătrânu, Iosif Kiraly, Marilena Preda-Sânc, Dan Mihălţianu, Mircea Roman, Călin Dan, Miklos Onuscan, Petru Lucaci, Romelo Pervolovici, Marian Zidaru, Gheorghe Rasovszky, Ion Aurel Mureşan, Christian Paraschiv, Ștefan Râmniceanu, Alexandru Păsat, Vioara Bara, Rudolf Bone, Alexandru Antik, Marcel Lupșe and other that are present in the pages of this issue.

The file dedicated to the eighties generation “revisited” after 20 years was coordinated by Magda Cârneci and Adrian Guță, two of its critics and theorist that published books on this matter. The list of artists in this issue is not comprehensive, overlooking names of painters (Gheorghe Ilea, Mihai Chioaru, Andrei Chintilă, etc), sculptor (Vlad Aurel, Mircea Popescu, etc), graphic artists (Mircea Stănescu, Dorel Găină, Gheorghe Urdea, etc) and decorative artists (Daniela Făiniș, Titu Toncian, Ilie Rusu, Simona Tănăsescu, Mihai Țopescu, etc), that we hope to present in future issues. It remains to be seen whether this approach to make a compact presentation of the eighties artists will offer the public a sufficiently coherent image of “the visual eighties” and if it will be an incentive, a dare even towards newness, evolution, or if this is the beginning of a “classicization”.

 

Magda Cârneci, Editor-in-chief

#2-3 The New Figurative Painting After 2000

2011

The revival of painting?

 

There was a lot of hesitation amongst the editorial staff about the title for the main theme for this double issue of ARTA. Should we call it the Neo New Painting of today? The New Photo-Realism or The New Figurative? Should we call it The New Honesty, The Neo Pop-Socialism or The Revival of Painting since the 2000s? All of these possible (and questionable) labels only partially cover an obvious phenomenon that has been going on in the Romanian art scene in the last decade. We are witnessing an amazing, enormous, even viral comeback of this reign of visual art in its classic signification as painting.

The turbulent 90s that were so bewildered by the invasion of new artistic techniques and the sudden openness to internal and international contradictory aesthetic ideologies appeared to be placed, at least in the most visible part of the Romanian art scene, under the menacing threat of “the death of painting” as a major way of visual molding and aesthetical marking of reality. As opposed to the irruption of installation and performance art, of photography and video art as fast and dynamic formulas for implementing the artistic gesture in the concerning now, practicing painting seemed a traditional and repetitive occupation, incapable of visual freshness and technical anachronism – someone once said “whoever painted during those years was stupid” (Mihai Pop). The political urgencies of that moment, the need to rapidly adapt to anticommunism activity and to pro-capitalist ideologies, the rivalry between the new mediums, they all seemed to permanently invalidate painting’s capacity to say something profound about the new human condition and to adapt to the new world the arose in Romania. This occurred everywhere in Eastern Europe because of the difficult overlapping of a tenaciously viral post-communism and a new liberal ferociousness.

Still, painting survived in the depths of the studios for this “crossing of the transitional desert” even though it appeared to be killing painting in the public interest’s eyes. During the late 90s and especially in the mid 2000s there was a gradual and spectacular revival that placed painting back in cultural interest. The Rostopasca Group, a series of symptomatic exhibitions in the capital and in other cities, The School of Grays in Cluj, the Bucharest Neo-pop, these are just some of the marks belonging to this intense and overflowing phenomenon, of which you will find consistent and very interesting texts in this double issue of ARTA.

Of course, the art of painting is practiced in Romania in a thousand and one ways, from traditional and classical to modernist and new-modernist, and by all artistic generations. But our focus is on the young generation, from around the year 2000, that produced a true rupture in the way reality is seen and in the way today’s invading visual element is being processed. Rooted in the new media and in pop art, in the 60s and 70s hyperrealism and photorealism from where it uninhibitedly draws inspiration, the new painting is ultra-realist, figuratively cynical and super photographical, it is crudely honest, aggressive and ruthless and at the same time filled with a strange poetry about daily ordinariness and a metaphysical tautology of the absurd. And there is no coincidence that precisely this young Romanian painting, apparently anchored in an anthropological situation that is typical for the present Romanian situation, managed to gain, with the help of a few important names, the international recognition that seemed unimaginable a decade ago. There is a profound conjecture of vision between the young painting and the new wave of Romanian cinema that also gained international fame, or the new poetry of the 2000s..

Is it still possible to practice figurative painting of innocent evidence after the neo-avant-garde and especially the conceptual and post-war experiences? Is there a true critical dimension or an aesthetical distancing that is creative enough in this kind of pictorial duplication of the bare, neutral and flat everyday life? Does the photographical perfection of the image spare it or does it bring it closer to shallowness and absurd? What are the conceptual limits for this type of painting that apparently lacks transfiguration? Where does it hide in metaphysical transgression? These are just a few of the questions that this issue of ARTA wants to answer. More issues dedicated to painting in various stylistic and generational levels will soon follow.

 

Magda Cârneci, Editor-in-chief

#1 Art in Public Space

2011

Why art in the public space?

 

Because it has been the right time for a few years now in Romania, like everywhere else in the world, and it needs to be documented, presented, discussed and realized. The critical number of interesting artistic phenomena and urban actions suggest an intense, obvious need to kick-off a discussion from multiple points of view, or at least to display a decentralized diversity of phenomenology and symptoms.

Romanian urban culture reached its first age of adulthood, post-Decembrist and postmodern, and it already has its passionate practitioners, youths especially, its theorist and devoted defenders, professionals or NGO members of all ages and colors, present in everyday reality and in the virtual space of the internet as well.

The Romanian public space – with its difficult post-communist avatars, its provoking history of striving to transform itself into a real political space, its political and commercial abuses that want to disfigure or even cancel it altogether – is starting to be seen as a vital necessity for a public wellbeing that is not just for sociologists, anthropologists, political scientists or intellectuals of any sorts, but also for the schooled urban population, for the often invoked cosmopolitan middles class, and especially for totally urban youths that feel more and more solidary towards the only living environment that they know and in which they grew.

The increased interest for the urban space as a common, maybe even communitarian space, the live taste for more and more diverse types of non-institutional and nonconformist urban culture, the recent passion for present moments and awareness of one’s past, one’s historical patrimony seen as a common good and identity value, all of these constitute evidence in favor of a major shift in personal and collective perspective that can reach even administrative and Romanian political makers.

Public space art is the interface-concept between visual arts, social community, urbanism and political ties. From public art in the classical sense, monumental or decorative, to the perishable art of various dramatic or anniversary public moments, from officially commissioned art to independent, anonymous and temporary artistic intervention that highlights a momentary situation and personalizes, marks spatial and temporal places and city fragments. There is a large pallet of possibilities for creative, engaged or playful intervention that has been easily, imaginatively and powerfully embraced by the Romanian artists (but nameless citizens as well).

Art in urban spaces becomes a more and more visible, assertive and sometimes invasive presence. It is an anthropologic, aesthetic and social phenomenon that says so much about the world we live in – a world where previous meanings of participative democratic ideas, artistically engaged ideas, politically negotiated ideas, public and private relationship ideas and communicative ideas change dramatically.

This issue of ARTA is about strategies for infiltrating and deconstructing the urban semantic jungle; about ways of provoking and disproving the official visual monopoly, be it related to the media or the commerce of the post-communist-neo-liberal world we live in; about deliberate or impulsive, systematic or spontaneous forms that art in the urban space takes; about the way it is inventing a new kind of (independent) politics of seeing and creating a new playground for action between the individual and the collective, between social and political; about its incredible wealth and diversity, but also about its dilemmas and deviations. This issue starts a debate that is more than needed.

 

Magda Cârneci, Editor-in-chief

#0

2010

This new issue of ARTA magazine takes off, as it often happens in Romania, in urgency. The urgency to catch up on 10 years of utter silence, after several more years of chaotic releases, both situations occurring because of the twisted period of post-communist transition in the last 20 years. Then there is the urgency to settle in a routine and a fluidity that is vital in making the Romanian art scene to be aware of its own evolution, as well as initiating a mature and lucid dialogue with the international art scene.

Started in the last moments of 2010, this issue inevitably plants to artistically summarize the year 2010. It is also inevitable, because of the short amount of time, that this summary is provisional and unable to mention all of the numerous artistic events that deserved a place in this issue. We took the risk of presenting a concise but believable version of the exciting things that happened in the Romanian visual landscape in 2010, hoping that the later issues would fill in the gaps of this bigger picture and give it more consistency and legitimacy.

While rapidly putting together this issue, we relied on blogs and internet websites dedicated to Romanian art, but we also counted on the swiftness of our collaborators – and I can’t help but be enthusiastic about the responsible solidarity of artists, critics and curators from Bucharest and the rest of the country. All generations, the youths especially, confirmed with promptitude that there was an absence, a need, an expectancy for an art magazine – decent and believable, the guild’s magazine, ARTA with its long standing tradition – to return and build the documental, the interface, the mirror or the screen in which Romanian art can be objectified and self-aware.

ARTA will put creativity and value in the spotlight.
ARTA will favor the new and the real artistic substance.
ARTA will incite to healthy competition and overcoming one’s self.
ARTA will fight for a Romanian art that has international bearing.

 

Magda Cârneci, Editor-in-chief