Minimal and Subliminal

Gabriel Stoian’s exhibition at Lateral Art Space, And give us out daily voyeurism, made me think about the steps a young artist, especially one that I had the chance to meet in various moments in his artistic career, has to take and the maturity needed to peruse this path.

Even though he studied engraving in the workshops of the Graphics department at the Art University in Cluj-Napoca, he made an almost radical transition to conceptual art whose main interest is the ready-made object used as an icon. The Bucharest art scene and the new working conditions pointed him in the direction of non-traditional artistic mediums that explore themes strongly related to the lifestyle of the contemporary man.

The visual setting he created at The Paintbrush Factory is an attempt at exploring voyeurism from a cerebral point of view, with its title being a variation of the biblical quote And give us our daily bread. The artist’s works refer to our tendencies to see everything that surrounds us as sexual, to become voyeurs while exploring the world. We all tend to be spies, unwanted witnesses in the private lives of others, and analyze more or less relevant details in our peers’ lives. Any detail takes the story forward and gives us an excuse to see a depicted reality from a personal or even sensual perspective. The artist himself states that it is nearly impossible to not become a voyeur in the contemporary era, be it on social media websites, in clubs, at work or in someone’s own home. Gabriel Stoian makes a visual game out of unexpected objects that belong to the everyday life of the individual. Man is a sexual creature that lives in a society that highlights precisely these traits. He is bound to find these kinds of connotations, which makes him want to mentally build a kind of sexual semantics.

The artist tries to provoke the viewer, but at the same time keep him in a visually familiar area, while operating with ready-made objects and minimalist designs. We become intruders with big potential of seeing the artist’s vision. Gabriela Stoian doesn’t want to shock, he wants to question certain types of perception and amplify their intensity for us, the viewers. His works are ironic at times – Remainder is such an example, with its two-sided message Fuck Off, or the bone displaying the text I may be dead but at I’m still pretty. The works interact with the viewers through the intense message. The Lateral Art Space highlights the objects’ power of suggestion with its minimal setting, pushing the viewer to explore every inch of the rooms where the works have a contextual relationship with the space and with each other. The artist questions and plays with the fine line between curiosity and obsession. Even the exhibition’s tittle suggests that the individual has a perpetual need to feed herself with fragments from her neighbor’s existence. Contemporary man’s identity becomes an amalgam of genetic data, evolution, personal growth and accumulated information as a voyeur.

And give us our daily voyeurism is a well put together exhibition that has a minimal visual impact but has a powerful subliminal message that emphasizes the vision of an artist with a unique evolution in the context of Romanian contemporary art.

The way I see it, the exhibition at The Paintbrush Factory is a phase in the growth of the artist’s visual communication. Gabriel Stoian keeps experimenting. He isn’t necessarily looking for a formula or a recipe, but a personal way of enciphering and deciphering forms and meanings. He gravitates around a conceptual zone of irony which is sometimes funny, while discussing about some very pertinent human realities. His works aren’t shocking and they weren’t even meant as such. Their aim is to push the viewer out of her comfort zone without offering a clear solution in decrypting the message, but different kinds of perception. As far as the Romanian contemporary art scene goes, Stoian is obviously part of the group of conceptual artists that questions social and human aspects of life in a warm and powerful way, without engaging in a political discourse. He is very aware of his artistic practice and his art is alive and constantly searching and questioning. I personally think he is a breath of fresh air among his peers in the young generation.


And give us our daily voyeurism is at Lateral Art Space between 30 January – 27 February 2015.


Ada Muntean

Ada is a Graduate of University of Art and Design in Cluj-Napoca and has a PhD in Visual Arts (2019), conceiving a research thesis entitled "The Human Body as Image and Instrument in Contemporary Art....

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