Questions for Ileana Pintilie, art historian based in Timişoara
What Romanian art events (solo/collective show, artist talk, workshop, festival, biennale, editorial work) in 2014 did you find interesting/decisive in indicating a way, a style, a new area of expertise, or an already known and established area of artistic research and activity? What were the lesser moments in the artistic Romanian art scene of the year 2014? In short why?
I don’t pretend to have a complete overview on the events that took place in 2014 in our country, due to my limited mobility, and most of the events probably took place in Bucharest. From what I’ve seen, I don’t think that something special or decisive happened, good or bad, but rather that things took their relatively known course.
This is why I would rather talk about art institutions – that can be observed from afar – that are also part of a known pattern, without any major changes, with one notable example: the new director of the National Contemporary Art Museum (MNAC), Călin Dan. But too little time passed since then to actually notice if MNAC took a new direction, but I have faith that a new whiff of energy and creativity can already be felt. The institutions that had a lot to lose in 2014 are the art museums. They are unfinanced, brought to their knees by politics and bureaucracy, trailing behind them a big cloud of personal amateurism, they are badly administrated and nothing ever happens out of their own initiative, so the only small chance they get is when an exhibition falls from the sky within their stone-still spaces. The galleries, however, have become much more dynamic because, despite the fact that they may or may not have a well-defined personality, they try to draw in artists, sometimes the same artists over and over… But this constant agitation is positive because it gives birth to something interesting from time to time. The one gallery that managed to become more coherent and build a clear program is Plan B, which is preoccupied with recovering important histories, but also pays attention to the present. From what I’ve seen, the quality of the shows is often remarkable, and the gallery’s management, which is also taking care of a space in Berlin, is an exceptional one.
What international art event of those you’ve seen or heard of in 2014 did you like best? Was there something you found worthy of attention, special, uncommon, or (on the contrary) was there anything typical and representative, already engraved in the international art scene of 2014? What didn’t you like in 2014?
Talking about international events also depends on my chance to travel and take part in such events. 2014 was the year without a Venice Biennale or a documenta, so there weren’t any notable scandals, admirations or incriminated curators. Big museums kept to their cultural schedules and their important and carefully prepared exhibitions. I’d like to mention two personal shows that I thought were of remarkable quality: the Richard Hamilton retrospective at Tate Modern and Victor Man’s show at the Deutsche Bank in Berlin.
If Hamilton was the surprise of rediscovering a pioneer, impressively anchored in the positivist utopia of the 1950-60 and an innovative visual language, Man’s show was the equivalent of discovering a true painter, no matter the era in which he lives. Still, his intelligence in making a connection between apparently obsolete pictorial values and the contemporary world seemed like it was saving him from a possible desuetude.
Today’s art is a plain of continuous experimenting, where things are better or worse, but the fervor of searching might be more important than the final outcome. Perhaps only the artists who copy others or copy themselves are the most uninteresting. This is why I wouldn’t dare judge something as being bad, especially since bad painting made way for some very noteworthy things.
Adriana Oprea is an art critic and historian. She has been publishing essays and reviews in Revista 22 and is a collaborator of Revista ARTA since its relaunch in 2010. In 2006 she started working in ...