2 September to 3 October 2010
The Gallery is pleased to announce the first solo exhibition of Romanian artist, Ciprian Muresan in the UK. Muresan’s work is an evocative response to his own politically tumultuous milieu; his art is rooted in a confrontation with this history and an artistic commitment to locate it within personal and collective experiences and the history of art itself. Whilst the immediate context of Muresan’s work is the turbulent years of post-communist Romania, his body of work is a delicate but ranging consideration of global socio-political issues creating a powerful and often unsettling artistic narrative. He has recently exhibited at the Centre Pompidou (Paris), the New Museum (New York) and The Renaissance Society at The University of Chicago (Chicago), and had two successful solo shows this year, at n.b.k – Neuer Berliner Kunstverein (Berlin) and Plan B (Berlin).
Muresan’s art is profoundly aware of the history of art; intelligently referencing and recontexualising art and literary history. For example, his work The End of the Five Year Plan, 2004, is a reinterpretation of Maurizio Cattelan’s controversial La Nona Ora, 1999. Muresan’s 2004 reinterpretation replaces Cattelan’s decrepit global icon, Pope John Paul II, with the Orthodox Patriarch. Locating the work within recent Romanian political history, Muresan’s reinterpretation transcends Cattelan’s initial connotations of contemporary iconography and the deconstruction of protective authority. Muresan forms an assault against the Orthodox Church’s relationship with Nicolae Ceausescu‘s brutal regime and the blurring of secular and religious distinction. This reinterpretation of existing art work is central to Muresan’s practice, as Nicolas Bourriaud has conceptualized, this method of production; whereby artists interpret and reclaim preexisting objects, is an art of ‘postproduction’. National identity is a further defining narrative within the work or Ciprian Muresan. Romanian Blood, 2004 sets a precedent for this opposition toward the ideological falsification of history and national identity. The very paradox of this image is the tricolor of red, yellow and blue which run from the wrist of this individual; seemingly the ‘blood’ of a true patriot, except this ignoble death is surely a renunciation of any patriotic responsibility. It is this incomprehensible construction or idea of national identity that Muresan challenges. Muresan strives to create a more personal, less reified identity, and champions a sincere and proudly ambiguous alternative. This alternative perspective is evident in Choose…, 2005, which documents Vlad Muresan mixing Pepsi and Coca-Cola in a glass. Whilst most overtly the act of defining these two indistinguishable, late capitalist products, appears to be a commentary on the invasive nature of corporate branding strategies, the work can equally be understood as a comment on the vacuity of false identities, which in essence all brands are.
Ciprian Muresan’s exhibition at Wilkinson is a culmination of those existing narratives that punctuate his work. 4’33”, 2008, which takes its title and dimensions from John Cage’s original 1952 composition, is an alternative view of post-industrialism. Like Cage’s original piece, the soundscape of Muresan’s 4’33” is governed by an eerie stillness, the frozen machines and echo of the departed work force are a somber memorial to a former epoch of productivity. Muresan’s dispute is with a failed utopianism and subsequent social decay that leaves a factory in this languid state,
neither communism nor subsequent privatization could prevent this erosion. Communist manifesto, pig latin translation, 2007 is an intriguing obfuscation of the Communist manifesto. The reduction of this text to mere playful jargon is an ironic statement, but also a remark upon the ever-complicated reading of communism. The culmination of the exhibition is the deeply unsettling Dog Luv, 2009. Visually, the film’s atmospheric, indeed chiaroscuro, use of light is mysterious and striking. Muresan re-interprets a text by Romanian playwright Saviana Stanescu and the narrative extends a powerful and brutal portrait of humanity’s history of torture and execution. This dark and theatrical vision of society presents a world where choice, security and authority are bought into question.
It is often the unknown or the unseen that forms the dialogue within Muresan’s art; meanings lie beneath metaphor and insinuation, yet once uncovered there is a frankness that disconcerts the viewer and demands reflection. Muresan’s view is not linear, his inquisition of life is complex and there are no direct answers, instead an unsettling question mark lies over society.
Ciprian Muresan lives and works in Cluj (Romania), he is the co-editor of VERSION and editor of IDEA art + society magazine. Recent solo exhibitions include ‘Ciprian Muresan’ at n.b.k. – Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin, ‘How I Wonder What You Are’ at Plan B, Berlin. He has also exhibited in the Romanian Pavilion at the 2009 53rd Venice Biennale. He is represented by Plan B, Cluj.