The Marin Sorescu National Theatre of Craiova encompasses a certain space which is as expansive and fresh as it is secluded, especially when it comes to collaborations with young artists. This space is known as ElectroPutere Gallery, and its principal mission is to promote emerging contemporary art by providing an experimental exhibition space. Often housing pieces of art with a strong social and political messages, the gallery itself transforms in a space of debate about the status of art in our current society. Last week, I had the pleasure to visit their most recent exhibition named “C U Next Tuesday” curated by Mihaela Varzari, where the artworks of the artist Beatrice Loft Schulz were presented.
The art objects are in fact a selection from a bunch of older series created by the artist a while back. Beatrice admits that working with different techniques and materials represents a key characteristic of her artistic universe. In that note, the current exhibition offers a bird’s eye perspective on her creations, bringing together older and newer creations. The ones on paper are made through a water painting procedure, which produces distinct organic patterns, similar to the ones seen in polished marble or in minerals. Other techniques include pencil drawings, weaving and latch-hook. The rug placed on the floor is made with latch-hook, while the hanging one is a particular type of weaving traditional in Romania, named “gherghef”, which the artist learned while studying there.
The exhibition itself is meant to be interpreted in its entirety, functioning more as an installation than as a collection of separate works. Thus, the most important aspect is that the viewer takes into account everything when she enters the space. This point is reiterated by the lack of obvious points of interest. The exhibition talks about pleasure and, in particular, about the different perceptions of pleasure and the different forms that pleasure can take. Judging by this motive alone, the experience of the exhibition appears quite difficult to put into words. Beatrice believes that an exhibition does not need symbolic or intellectual charges or other things that are difficult to decipher in order to produce a strong impression. Therefore, the beauty for the sake of beauty is proudly presented within her exhibition. Everything was in perfect aesthetic balance.
It is not a classic exhibition, so to say. There isn’t a well-established path to follow, and the works do not necessarily fit into that typology of self-sufficient artistic objects, which function as points of interest in this type predefined path. The arrangement is a very playful one, meant to make it extremely simple for the viewer to feel the pleasure and joy of a perfectly designed aesthetic, without any interpretive or theoretical complications. The piece of poetry chosen as a description in the press release offers this exact explanation through its content:
The veil has been lifted
You can no longer claim ignorance
All has been revealed
You were spared being turned into the very
salt that has fueled your angst
You will not the sinner of some religion’s
Stories told around the fire to teach people
what happens when you:
Go against god
Go against your husband
Go against the societal norm and
expectation to put your future and fate in the
hands of someone who honestly isn’t all that
accredited to have that responsibility
When you regret
When you doubt.
No you will not be the villain in another’s
You will have stood your ground
You will be confident in all your choices and
Especially the one to walk away
Without turning back
baby recklesss, The Lifted Veil, 2019. Source: Instagram.
These verses show exactly this unconventional approach that made it possible to build this exhibition: “Go against the social norm”. The moment you fulfill your destiny, the most intense pleasure is felt. Thus, due to the fact that the destiny of the exhibition is to produce pleasure, it becomes, in a way, a materialization of the pleasure itself. There is something untouchable, unlimited by some rigid rules on what should or should not give us pleasure.
However, I couldn’t help interpreting this exhibition in a certain sense, as it reminded me of something very specific. Therefore, in this attempt to explain to myself where that image came from, I probably sank too deep into interpretation. Next, I’ll try to explain what I felt when I first saw this particular exhibition.
The first thing I noticed was, of course, the title “C U Next Tuesday”. The offensive connotation of the word outlined by the capital letters changes its meaning when you consider it along with the actual exhibition. By contrast, once you move on from this initial keenness of the title, you begin to discover the fragile and unworldly daintiness of the whole setup. Everything, starting from the scattered sectioned vegetables and the chromatic, to the art and the different mediums of expression, all of it alludes to this powerful idea of inner peace, thus bringing to attention the delicate balance of life itself through a series of antithetic concepts such as organic/ inorganic or fertility/ sterility.
The dialogue between the works and the space has given me the same feeling of balance between the contrasts, which now seems to be the main mechanism of the exhibition. After the first contact with the art, my mind immediately formed the image of a biology laboratory: an impeccable place with immaculate white walls, a place destined for observation and understanding. Here the most obvious contrast appears, between the observed thing and the context of the action of observing. In such a sterile, controlled and inert environment (the laboratory), organic structures (cells, tissues) are studied, components that are, by definition, the structural and functional units of living matter, or, in other words, the basis of life itself. By this point, it becomes easy to understand why the exhibition invoked this image. The white of the walls and the auxiliary materials together with the works themselves, which are composed of patterns that look very much like something you would see looking through the lens of a microscope at a sample, are the elements to which this first associative impression is due.
Continuing the same idea, the whole context in which the space and the placement of the objects seemed ingeniously harmonized. The shape of the room itself was quite difficult to describe and to handle (the shape of an irregular polygon), with sides and corners, articulated in different ways. However, by both color and positioning of the art, the impression of a continuous, fluid, unitary space is created. The main reason is probably the manipulation of the spatial limits, by positioning some works in the center of the room. That directs the viewer’s attention inside the room, not no its limits. Also, in the case of the rear wall, even a chromatic illusion is used for blurring the perception of the corner. Thus, the polygon is broken. The rational is subjugated by the imaginary and the exhibition exceeds that preexisting perimeter of the room. The chosen color contributes fully to the construction of the feeling given by the whole. This vivid splashes of color on the walls and their complementary contrast are also find in the plant decorations that joined the art.
I will stop here, as it is obvious that the essence of the exhibition goes away with every extra word I use. I could continue on the same note forever, but I will still not be able to capture the experience itself. Seeking an explanation was enough to destroy that initial wonder that made me want to write about what I saw. That first fascination, unexplained and mysterious, remains only a poorly preserved fossil in the stone of the words I have almost blindly listed above. Thus, my attempt to rediscover now something that has disappeared as quickly as it was born is useless. Rational explanations are insufficient to capture a living experience. In the end, my mind constantly repeats an apparent dialogue between these obsessive motives that followed me ceaselessly as I watched and tried to understand something that was, in fact, meant to be felt, and not understood.
Tea is studying art history at the National University of Arts in Bucharest. After graduating from Tudor Vianu National College of Informatics, her path became more and more artistic as she first star...