Article magazine # 95


Berceni. Nicolae Comanescu

Post de: Cosmin Caciuc

Exhibition at the National Museum of Contemporary Art – Bucharest, 14.05.2011 – 31.07.2011
Curator: Ruxandra Balaci

Dust poisoning, dreams and stereotypes cut out off the media, everyday experience among Berceni blocks of flats, some contagious humour, destabilized framing, light-headed stylistic collages, mixed cultural allusions and colour hallucinations are part of the aesthetic ammunition of artist Nicolae Comanescu whose paintings propose unusual trips among actual urban deeds and collective imaginary.

Mirroring his major creative trends between 1998 and 2010 (Rostopasca period, “Grand Prix”, “Beach Culture in Bercsenyi”, “Dust and Powder”), the 88 works gathered under “Berceni” heading within a retrospective exhibition hosted at the National Museum of Contemporary Art (NMCA) might signify a replay and refreshing of some conceptual attitudes that marked critical postmodernism in the West, in mid ‘70s: aesthetic nonconformism, semantic multicoding and particularly an obsessive appeal to the idea of multiple reality. Nicolae Comanescu’s painting approach may reveal some sources of inspiration for a new perception of the public space, in as much as we can find multiplied worlds between our dusty corporality and social bends displaced by aesthetic over-consumption.

“I gotta go. Maybe I’m redundant” (2000), the work reproduced right on the cover of our magazine, in February 2008 (# 61) edition is quite meaningful for Rostopasca period (1997– 2001): we are talking about a generation that permanently “is about to leave” or who indefinitely oscillate mentally and physically, between some “here” inverted by problems and some “there” full of seducing promises. Thus, starting from a contemporary artistic phenomenon, we inevitably drift towards issues related to places and towns, to some visual culture of simultaneity associated with “here and there”. Nicolae Comanescu’s paintings are glances cast towards everyday urban places, possibly the most trivial ones pertaining to a post-communist reality of Berceni neighbouring; however, those glances never come from a fixed point of view, but from real and virtual crossings, from collisions between local reality and phantasms of an outer hallucinatory world spangled with ironies about the art establishment.

The works pertaining to the Grand Prix and the Beach Culture Bercsenyi (2004-2007) are expressive for the praise of visual veneration in the world of welfare symbols and patterns of a consumer society, violently overlapping a post-communist reality. The objects in the rear-reflecting mirror do not pertain to a rear reality but to some imaginary ahead reality pierced by flickering reflections on chrome surfaces just as everyday objects come from street clips float in geographical and urban plans as if altered by mysterious hallucinogen vapours.  Floating among distorted realities turns into a post-critical exploration of a multidimensional space where “resistance” seems to no longer make sense. This leaves only irony, humour, a radical drift to a fault of views beyond the actual surface of the objects and some magic pataphysical radicalism…

The “Dust and Powder” (2007–2010) set of paintings marks not only a technical change in painting, but also a conceptual one connected to the idea of materiality multiplied by overlapping and blending that accompany the reconfiguration of our ordinary sites: “…earth from Berceni, in front of the block of flat where I live, ash and mustard from several places in Bucharest, cigarette ashes from Ota’s bar, clay from the Danube bank past Carcaliu village in Tulcea county, lime flower powder from Oltenitei, brick powder from Assan’s mill, dust picked from the ditch past Panselelor and Caltunasilor street crossings and the parking next to Tulnici and Anton Bacalba?a street crossings, everything blended with some American acrylic medium bought from a German store in Vienna, on canvas”.

This literal exposure of materiality in reference to the represented object or landscape on canvas, characterizing other artists’ works, too (Vik Muniz, Allison Cortson), generates unexpected poetical disclosures, or positive openings beyond the negative aura or stereotypy of the watched subject. The reality of Berceni neighbourhood could soon become a subject for some niche tourism (as Constantine Goagea noted in his comment on “Dust .02” series of paintings published in our magazine issue #61), attached to new studies of urban art interested in disclosing the most unexpected issues of modernization, able to go beyond the primary concept of “reality” to rediscover the resources of our collective imaginary and not in the least, our public space as well.

Photos here.