Gloria Painting exhibition catalog, May 2008
The option for the insistence on the foggy zones of memory, as well as the seduction exercised by the historicity and appropriation of the photography seem to comprise more and more the actual Romanian painting. It expresses formally through the courageous option for the usage of the painting as a sign, testing the discourse force and the significance of the tradition of historical painting, and Gerhard Richter’s influence covers an entire generation. How could this seduction be explained, beyond the imminent and obvious danger of a successful brand, especially when at stake is the amnesia which operates with our perception of the everyday present? If the German neo-expressionism seems to have resulted from a historical traumatizing identity, in the former east-European bloc, its suspicion and European fatalism seem to be an answer to a traumatic post-communist condition for recent unguided generations, trapped in an eternal transition which no longer has meaning.
This seems to be the discourse area in which Dragos Burlacu proposes a pictorial project of socio-historical, coagulated around a national identity, or better said, autochthonous, mythical, and uncertain. The temporality of its images is suspended between the re-signification of the lost “origin” and its cruel persistency under the form of a precarious social condition in a still rural country, marked by surrealistic fusions between urban and traditional, but also by monstrous discrepancies as far as social condition is concerned.
Exposing the myth of national identity and of “eternity born at the countryside” to an insidious and cynical criticism, myth understood as a form of retrograde addiction to the past, which is blind to the surrounding reality and to the need of real reform of a deeply ill society, his projects translate into painting a photo-journalistic analysis of the Romanian post communist social present through the comment of its historical past and its re-signification contextually compared to a banal atrocious present. Its inconvenient character comes from the superposition, often in the same frame, of the “innate” historical past, framed by the aura of authenticity and by an external political signature (the national flag with the three colours), a void mark of identity, and a patriotic sign whose force of communal coagulation is overused and, seemingly, irremediably eroded. This fact is visually treated with irony, as the mark of a brand, aestheticizing the political aspect with the sign of pop package. And this emphasizes even more its abstract autonomy to any concrete content, its sliding into an unintelligible impersonal history, exterior to the individual.
The goal of his actual project seems to be that of historical derision through the subtle consumptive counterfeit of the image, obtained by means of the continuous sliding of the two reference levels (document-reality, past-present) which lack anchorage to the concrete and are unable to find a common bind besides their simple superficiality, unable to keep the living significance of the lived life. Through a false historical-modern opposition, the photograph would be cold, transparent, objective, neutral, suitable for the recording of the immediate, and the painting – warm, expressive (and, thus, with a degree of opacity bigger than its mimetic source), subjective, committed, suitable for its commemoration.The technique often used in Dragos Burlacu’s paintings, borrowed from Gerhard Richter, pictorially obstructs, however, the “transparency” of the photograph, thus pointing out the historical, discursive and subjective construct which has been impregnating the supposedly-documentary image since ever. From Luc Tuymans, he borrows the same detachment of the press image from its propagandist potential through trivialization, offering them a vague familiarity, floating, with no intimacy or immediacy, within the space of an impure collective conscience, which his pop interventions only comment ideologically.
It could be concluded that the enormous social discrepancies visible in today’s Romania are, in the artist’s opinion, the effect – or the cause – of an inconsistency of the historical discourse and of his own collective memory and of an uncertain placement into the present.
It is only clear that, for the artist, the simple documentary certification of the imbalances of the present is, in all fairness, the insufficiency of restoring the daily amnesia and of getting us out of indifference. What is not clear is if the social malady exposed and ironized by the artist has some kind of an imprecise localization, or it only constitutes for the artist the sign of a precarious general condition; and, as a solution, if he suggests the designer’s ironical-cosmopolitan detachment from the brand, or the social engagement of the investigation journalist, who, as a matter of fact, sometimes risks pathos or reformist utopia. Indecisive, his critical attitude thus risks being outdistanced by the grandiose scale to which Dragos Burlacu institutes the process of the accusation which surpasses way too much the limits of the immediate present, without losing sight of it. However, at this scale, the critical artist often changes, imperceptibly, his role of prosecutor for that of helpless judge who silently consoles himself with the failure of historicity as a critical category, (falsely) suing History itself. He finally becomes an easy target for his (even involuntary) cataloguing as the instance of another pictorial successful brand – reflexive and aware of the possibilities of critical expression of this environment, but re-produced in Romania under the license of the occupant…
appeared in “Vitraliu”, “George Apostu” International Cultural Centre’s periodical, Bacau, year XV, No. 3-4 (24) June 2006
The organizers’ inspired fervour joined two modalities of artistic expression of modernity worthy of select saloons of the great spiritual capitals. Though conceived as distinct cultural entities, Dragos Burlacu’s painting exhibition (eruditely and in the same time, extremely warmly varnished by critic Valentin Ciuca), as well as the performance on Matei Visniec’s text, decomposed theatre, share inspiration, novelty and freshness of youth and give the certitude of profound talents with solid aesthetic fundaments.
Dragos Burlacu’s works have no title – how can we call a dream otherwise than a dream? Anyway, such images couldn’t have anything else but labels with many words. A painting could be named “The Girl in the Bathroom Sectioned by the Break-up Nightmare, Watched through a Keyhole by the Man Who Loves Her”. Another label could be “Sad Man in the Tender Moment of the Day”. The exercise of naming could go on with “Free Your Mind, You Asshole!” or “The Hideous Face of the Man in Love, but Misunderstood, in Three Coloured Exemplars”.
In the former bowling alley of the communist party on the lakeside in Bacau, collages of the bizarre are imprinted on the retina like some windows through which fragments of reality emerge on ironically coloured canvas, energetically brushed with paint tears negligently dripping from a confidential space. It’s a delight of sensual, exciting nonconformity, like in pop art. Instead of seeing Marilyn Monroe in the colouristic hypostases suggested by Andy Warhol, you discover Da Vinci’s Gioconda in Dragos Burlacu’s split vision. Why not? On cymae hang flashes of red fleshy lips, a young woman’s perfect thighs, a man’s naturalistic eyebrow and temple expressed on a square metre of canvas, obsessions of anatomic detail, but also the ridiculous high technology display on which the sketch of a failed love thrones derisively. From the left sided wall, the monstrous macrocephalus, in three hypostases of a cosmic wonder with exophthalmic eyes, emits compassion.
Mysterious and attractive, many organized in polyptych in which happiness is depicted in white and black, like in an unforgivable sentence of destiny which does not accept compromise, the paintings present in the INSOMNIA exhibition are tender and fascinating like a passion repeated in the orphic subconscious, without finding its correspondent in reality, in the daylight.
Even in the abstract images of the insomnias it is easy to recognize the harsh, convulsive preoccupation for the detail of life, which is tempting and stirs passions. Irreparably broken dreams in a world in which happiness is divided parsimoniously, accidentally and unfairly. The artist doesn’t seem willing to confess himself wholly to the onlooker. He subjugates the eye to some unusual visual experiences, unveiling just a part of reality, and that one deformed, but, due to that, the more exciting. From one-coloured voyeuristic slits real life elements mix with the explosive effect of the colours of a dream broken by existential sleeplessness. Precise, vigorous coughs almost photographically fix anatomic elements on huge canvas, in a touching affective tension. We find ourselves within a space where we are allowed to see the imperfection of juvenile acne on a forehead full of sweat because of God knows what nightmare fears, and the carious teeth of a feminine character actually sensual, but deformed by an unknown wonder.
The artist’s unmistakable brand is defined by unexpected inspiring motifs, if they were not completely lacking in evolutionary technical means, from the firm spontaneity of contours to the complexity of some forms in which the lyricism of impressionism insinuatingly combines with the image of sensualism which you feel vibrating in the dull black and white photo of a girl’s body with its morphology modified because of the hotness of passion. The volumes of colour are composed of a game in which optimism is well tempered by the precise graphic that sends to the exotic territories of Hocusai’s frames.
INSOMNIA is a provocative game forcing your memory to remount, from frames that lie somewhere in the brains, unnoticed, the syndrome of solitude. Something that, though lived for so many times, remains unseen.
Fragment from Observator cultural No. 150 / 31 January - 6 February 2008
Contemporary art is a territory of confrontation, of sincere experiences, underlining a complex phenomenon of cultural, social, faith of principle diversity. Such as we find it in the young artists’ works, it does not “evade” from the social impact zone, it is reactive, and the freedom of discourse is in many cases surprising.
A series of traditional genres have relevance in contemporaneousness, imagistic models are taken over, but, in the same time, we meet a practice of unconventional, controversial methods, result of attitude, in which parody plays an essential part. What becomes determinant is contextualisation, the strategy which the artist assumes and promotes not only by means of visual image, but also by means of texts. For Dragos Burlacu, painting is a “poetics of search”. His cycles talk about a universe seen as a whole, a world which belongs both to man and animals, nature, instinctive reactions, subconscious, as much as to rational knowledge. The author’s preferences, such as they are read from the exhibited works, incline towards messages in which we find the power to take refuge, to discover the saving solution in critical situations; the instinct for survival is the luminous spot, it’s the promise of a future full of hopes.
We discover, in his works, problems of the contemporary world, from pollution to war, to man’s capacity to live a dimension of humanism for which birth and death are essential reference marks. His pictorial ability is based on chromatic subtleties, on transparencies which make capital out of the great tradition of this language and in which we discover humanity’s values in the simplest things.
The three young artists present at Veroniki Art Gallery sustain their suggested messages through texts, as well. It’s a surprising world at first sight, but in which we recognize our epoch, our fellows and habitudes. We find a transfer of traditional values to contemporaneousness, a critical look upon them, a lucid, many times cynical, analysis of some truths, but their message does not lack vitality or the bliss of understanding daily things which always take us by surprise. I’d say it is a true, diverse world in which we meet five personal visions that we’ll have to observe further on in the future.
…de la cunoașterea de sine, la desprinderea de sine
Tranzit, dincolo de sens, de dex, de google trebuie privit în ansamblu, în întregime, cu toate lucrările dispuse în jur, ca niște bucăți de memorie transformate în imagine. Senzația e de amnezie, alunecare, de desprindere, în același timp apare mai mereu un reper clar, fizic, de susținere. Nici urmă de dark side, ori de noir art, în expresie. Fără urme de memorialistică, ci memorie actuală. Cuvintele potrivite vizualității lui Burlacu stau undeva dincolo de primul plan de citire: neo-expresionism abstract, neofigurativ – are o tușă cultă, nu instinctivă, apoi, desigur, foto-realism cercetat și tratat pe mai multe planuri, nu manierat, iar despre latura abstractă, e lirică și mai puțin geometrică. Totuși, cuvintele potrivite seriei Tranzit sunt cuvintele care trebuie să spună ceva despre întreaga vizualitate a lui Dragoș Burlacu. Unul din cuvintele lui e Introspecția. Vizualitatea lui Burlacu are conotații de for interior, de psihism și auto-evaluare continuă, compune cu margini de percepție vizuală, interiorizat deliberat. E un tranzit printr-o realitate tocmai devenită interioară, proaspăt imprimată în memoria. Nimic nu rămâne în afară, totul trece prin interior. Lumina generală nu e nici solară, nici artificală și nici oarbă sau obscură. E pur și simplu o lumină vie, pe care o simți imprimată – analizată și gândită, apoi transmisa. Un alt cuvânt potrivit e senzația de imprimare, contururile fiind mereu apoase și blurate. Portretele sau cercul fetițelor numit „never ending game” sau personajul din pat sau „perfect balance” sau „waiting time”… sunt reprezentări ale unor concepte găsite la capătul diferitelor forme de autocunoaștere și autodescoperire în relație cu actualitatea. Fondul social al conceptului din spatele seriei Tranzit nu trebuie neapărat scornit dacă, din ceea ce transpare, socialul e surprins în feeling-ul de mare nimic, dincolo de acest nimic al zilei de azi, personal și efemer. O figură a lui Jack Nicholson sau un Bruce Lee, si ei sunt la fel de nesemnificativi între aceste marunțișuri zilnice și personale – „jocul” e infinit, somnul ascuns în alb adânc, „nunta” e mâncare văzută din cer, „așteptarea” e pierdută și aeriană, auto conștientizarea sinelui e „în fiecare secundă”. Limbajul vizual e conectat la toate organele de percepție, nu doar la opinie sau conceptualism. Figurativ și abstract sunt doar instrumente de lucru între multe altele, și nu căutări obsesive în vizualitatea istorică ori în alte scopuri docte sau activiste. Activism, criticism, revoluție ori ideea de alter sau conflict nu au de ce sa fie scoase la inaintare doar pentru a sincroniza fortat un limbaj vizual asumat căutător, în devenire și curios mereu. E un foto-moment din viitorul tranzit al unui artist care se autocunoaște. Semantica vizuală e actuală deplin ocolind social-ul de suprafață, al masei, și concentrandu-se pe sine-le socialului, pe sinele propriu. Liber de politică ori activism civic ori împotriviri ideologice, dar nu lipsit de rațiune, intelect și emoție. Amnezie, e un alt cuvant potrivit. Atinsă prin ingurgitarea și analizarea întregii realități, a exteriorității, a denotației pentru a o înțelege și pentru a-i da un sens, o imagine, o senzație vizuală interioară. Reprezentarea vizuală, în acest caz, e un obiect al cunoașterii sinelui și realității, sinele mare. Tranzit e desprindere, eliberare. Așa cum mersul e o cadere continuă, mereu salvată, echilibrată de celălalt picior adus în față.