We are proud to begin our fall season, 2017 by returning to Cluj, the now mythical city in Romania which during the past ten years has become a well known and highly respected source for generating contemporary talent. After being a pioneer in helping discover and promote “Cluj” and what it represents, we are delighted to feature now two exceptional young artists, Robert Fekete and Sergiu Toma who are focusing on the magic and ephemeral power of light. Through their chosen topic “Light Hunters”, a highly seductive, but challenging subject, Robert Fekete and Sergiu Toma are strongly affirming their innovative talent and creativity and clearly differentiating themselves from their older, much admired compatriots such as Adrian Ghenie, Victor Man or Mircea Suciu. Both Fekete and Toma are skillfully blending their rich history and painting tradition with novel, pop and highly electrifying elements suggesting the speed and confusion of today’s life and at the same time emphasizing their strong mastery of the newest artistic trends and techniques.
This new group of works prepared for the “Light Hunters” exhibition represents a pictorial evolution for the Romanian artist Robert Fekete. The images are now fragmented through bold, electric colors and the main characters are placed centrally and frontally. Each painting’s preparation is very meticulous. The artist’s sources blend the photos he takes himself of his friends or of objects that had an impact on him, with those taken from fashion newspapers, as film frames. He then prints them and executes collages. Often he develops the colors on the computer and creates surprising and innovative contrasts: he cuts parts, characters, landscapes or objects, and he combines them in a brilliant, mysterious and ambiguous mixture. He reviews repeatedly his collages for a month in order to monitor their effect and their conceptual strength. Then, he starts painting.
Fekete’s painting is not dogmatic, he has a flexible and fluid approach and the brush has a spontaneous movement, agile on the canvas, enchanting the observer. This enchantment is magnified by the light that rises from different directions in each fragment: evening light or morning light, it springs from the right and touches the character on the left. The resulting images are not static, but an endless procession moving in front of the spectator. Fekete delivers to us a visual and mental suspense where everything is possible.
The various pictorial elements repeat themselves in different paintings. The sun behind a mountain with curved and sculpted rays (“The Turquoise Sun”), appears in “I came with the Sun 2” in a stylized way that can recall tropical shells. It then transforms itself into a quick, calligraphic sign, in “Between the Broken Sun”, lighting a character surrounded by a landscape of fragments. The white disk with a white ring around it may be the pop design in front of a t-shirt (“My Way is the Highway”) or the symbol that occupies the circular lighthouse of a motorcycle (“I Could Ride Forever”). The same sign stands as the only enigmatic symbol in “Not Dark Yet” as two concentric blue rings on a black background. In “I Could Ride Forever”, a part of the handlebar is not painted, but the hand of the character seems to lean on it. In Fekete’s paintings, everything alternates between being present and being dissolved. The material is immaterial; the language of reality is rewritten continuously. The essence of this body of work are the voyage and the displacement; the use of a bike, motorcycle or scooter, is a way to penetrate the landscape and discover its mysteries and possibilities. The character is sliding effortlessly through the confusing fragments of today’s landscape, alternating between dream and reality. Until now, Robert Fekete’s characters, have always offered their backs to the viewer. Suddenly now, their faces emerge from the multiplicity of fragments which surround them and make them turn towards us. The brushstrokes are continuous, constructing and encercling the characters which are sliding in and out of reality.
Par Jacopo RICCIARDI
Sergiu Toma produces artwork which is rooted in reality, but it also carries secrets and magic. Sometimes an eerie silence overcomes these paintings, sometimes dreamlike visions seem as real as daily experiences. Magic and everyday realism converge on his canvas as if nothing could be more natural. His earlier works hint at years spent in a mental cell, an atavistic memory of a childhood room. These interior images show him and his family waiting in a daydream reverie for the arrival of mysterious unknown visitors, perhaps a breath of redemption, but above all for a call to action: “Wake up, get up and go! Step out of your comatose life, move out of the confines of your walledoff mind, leave all your time-stiffened memory-baggage behind, cast off all the ballast of dead things and take a trip into your consciousness! Step out of your mappable, tractable, little world, where even the grey-violet air might decompose any second!” Unexpectedly, Sergiu gets up and leaves his old world behind. Drunk on a polar burst of blazing Northern Lights, he bears the mark of the chosen (a glitter on his coat, like the white patch on Stalker’s hair) as he advances towards the magnetic glow (‘The Vision’). Is this a cosmic call towards a beckoning path of light leading to a pilgrimage, or just a visual enchantment, a rapture of colour? Perhaps it is beyond his own grasp. Yet the Aurora Borealis charms also his girlfriend (‘Time Space’), calling us all to the wonders reflected in a pair of sunglasses (‘Speed of Light’).
These new paintings are no longer the product of a compulsive, detail-driven, troubled mind, but a plunge into chromatic fluidity. Sergiu as a traveller of worlds and minds, armed with the cane and guided by the seeing dog of the vision impaired, is on a confident, purposeful, yet slightly entranced meandering quest through imaginary spaces and miraculous landscapes. Floating above the ground, overstepping fate, he roams the mind trails of the colour-coated marzipan mountains’ (‘Full Moon in Peru’). His passage is marked by a mating dance uniting the unalterable stellar order, a blessing of the spiritual world and the hyperborean sky (‘Self Portrait with Aurora Borealis’). He is driven by awe, longing and pining. Rebirth and new beginnings are his wellspring (‘Walk with Me’). In his picture ‘The Visitors’, we see members of an enigmatic expedition probing the rings around the darker woods of the subconscious, setting a course on preordained trajectories. This renders their expedition a pathetic forage, an autistically downcast march. They wander their circular beat in agony, against an existential headwind, wearing self-blinding eye-masks, dragging their gears in sleds behind...
Par Géza DABÓCZI
Light Hunters / 22 - 29 September 2017 - 37, rue des Mathurins 75008 Paris - Preview 21 September