DUST 2.0

A very short History of Dust in Art

_vezi mai jos textul in romana_

Art seems to employ a myriad of textures and materials – and even no materials at all – in order to express itself. Yet there is something which has been used from the very start of this thing called art, when our cave-dwelling ancestors began leaving their spiritual mark on this world. I am talking about dust, about dirt, earth, humus. The Neolithic "artist" imprinted his thought firstly and foremost by using charcoal and various types of dust, preferably of the reddish variety. The results are stunning even nowadays, after millennia and millennia. And they are born out of one of the most elemental materials available to humankind, something that just lies around in every corner and, indeed, everywhere one cares to look.

Dust in itself is not very versatile, and surely our ancestors noted this. The results of this observation is that they mixed it with animal fat to make stick around for longer. I should say that ten thousand years is a pretty long period of time, and I wish many other art pieces would last even hundred times less. But you see, they don't build things this durable these days, isn't it?

But we are not here to talk about how long things last, but about how things are made, and what are they made of. Making art by using dust is, as we all know, nothing new. Apart from cave paintings, dust (or rather special pigments from special soils) has been used in paints from the ancient Egyptians onwards, by peoples from all the corners of the world. We are going to jump over millennia, then, and look at the use of proper dust while creating works of contemporary art. We are not speaking of tempera, oil colours or gouaches made with ground-based pigments, but dust-dust, the kind that gets on your clothing when you take a fall outside, that sticks to your shoes, and is swept by street sweepers with their big brooms and mechanised aspirators and other cleaning implements.

There are several contemporary artists who have left their mark in dust in recent times: I will only mention Vik Muniz, Allison Cortson, Mona Vatamanu and Florin Tudor, Zhang Huan. We could also add to the count the great Antoni Tapies and several exponents of Arte Povera, but that would bring another dimension to this discussion. The art with dust I would like to talk about is the sort of art that is really connected to people. We can add to this small but nevertheless illustrious gallery our own Nicolae Comanescu, the painter of Romanian disconnected realities.

What brings together such different artists such as Muniz, Cortson, Floe/Vatamanu, Zhang and Comanescu? It is the materials they used, which have the particularity of being the people's own dust and ashes. And dust, whether we like it or not, is personal and it represents us. Let me explain...

No matter if we talk of buildings or people, the dust that surrounds them is made, to a lesser or greater extent, by tiny particles that were born out of their own bodies. In the case of buildings, dust can be made of bits that come, through fiction or impact, from bricks or cement, but also brought from the outside world, carried inside by the people who pass their thresholds.

In the case of people, the dust that surrounds them – in their houses or workplaces – comes from bricks and cement too, but also from tiny pieces that come from books, shoes, clothing and so on. And, lest we forget, from dead skin and fallen hairs. So the dust from my house fully represents me bodily. And if anyone would be curious enough to analyse things under the microscope, they could say what sort of objects I have in the house, whether I like to wear cotton or silk, or whether my carpets are old, or that I have many old books and so on.

This was the general idea used by Vik Muniz in his great show from the Whitney Museum in the US (2001), and also the concept behind Allison Cortson's portraits.

Muniz, for his exhibition "The Things Themselves: Pictures of Dust" thought to use the dust gathered by Whitney Museum's cleaners for several months. Sifting through it, he then used it as some artists use paints and inks, to render shapes and forms and colours. Naturally, the effect was that of black and white photographs: regular dust is not too coloured.

Muniz, a Brazillian artists living in the US, is also known for his paintings made with jelly, jams and other unusual substances. But of this dusty experience he said: "There was dust from the first floor, which was dark and greasy. On the top floor, there was some lighter dust. It was the hardest substance I've ever worked with, because it's disgusting. Dust is pieces of hair and skin. I think people scratch their heads a lot in museums; that gets mixed with the residue from the artworks themselves. That's the ultimate bind between the museum visitor and the artwork". (from New York Times Magazine, 11 February 2001).

So there you have it: Muniz's works were a "portrait" of the museum, but also of its visitors. Read more on Vik Muniz at www.vikmuniz.net

Allison Cortson, an American artist, has a somewhat different view. Cortson, for a change, looked not for the dust of public institutions, but from that of people's personal spaces, in their flats and houses. Her naturalistic portraits of friends and acquaintances come complete with the depiction of the space they use everyday, painted with the dust of those living quarters. Such perfect portraits indeed! One can see the people, and one can search for their spirit in these depiction. But also present are the particles and molecules from those people's lives, which are derived (in part) directly from them. See some Allison Cortson works here: www.thehappylion.com/index.php?artist=cortson&view=list

To give a further, spiritual, dimension to this short history of dust and contemporary art, we mentioned Zhang Huan. He does not work with dust per se, he works with ashes, but I do believe we must include him in this short history of artistic dust. His materials are the ashes of prayer incense sticks from the temples of Shanghai. They don't represent people as well as the dust from apartments and museums does, but coming from temples, these ashes represent people's hopes and prayers. If we would go for pompous phrases, we could even say this is a metaphor for humankind's hopes and prayers – but we won't say it, because we happen to hate metaphorical speeches. Zhang's most recent exhibition took place during October-November 2007, in London, at Haunch of Venison Gallery. Here he exhibited paintings (made with ash-paints, naturally) and sculptures made of compacted ash. The exhibition was transferred to Haunch of Venison Berlin, where the novelty is a 4-metre tall Buddha made of compacted ash. (details here: www.haunchofvenison.com/en/#page=berlin.current.zhang_huan)

This spiritual dimension of art reminds me of a work/intervention/performance by Romanian artists Mona Vatamanu and Florin Tudor, incidentally former colleagues of Nicolae in the Rostopasca art group that made the Romanian art headlines in the 1998-2000 period.

The Schitul Maicilor church in Bucharest is a building which, in 1982, was put on tracks and literally moved some 200 metres further down the road to make room for blocks of flats. In 2006, Mona and Florin went to the present-day location of the church, picked up pocketfuls of dust and transported them back to the original location of the church. Thus, symbolically but also physically, the old church found its old place. We could say that the artists have made, through this intervention, a historical reparation for the demolition of a large chunk of old Bucharest that made room for Ceausescu's People's House, the present-day Palace of Parliament. More on Mona and Florin at www.monavatamanuflorintudor.ro

And now we can start speaking about our friend Nicolae Comanescu, the painter whose brand new project you are about to see.

Ever since I met him, Nicolae was up for a laugh, and always ready to give a kick in the Establishment's behind. Working together with his mates from Rostopasca, Nicolae did exactly these: he had fun, he poked fun at the pretensions of the Romanian contemporary art scene, and – very importantly – he provoked into action the dozy young artists of the day. Or maybe those were the times when young artists didn't do much, anyway.

Gone are the days when Nicolae would kill, together with his fellow Rostopascians, the category of "nice", and would play tapes with long rants about all and sundry (which were probably fuelled by alcohol). Mr Comanescu has grown up to be a painter, and a pretty good one, too. A painter with an eye for the quirks of Bucharest's urban life (and God knows there are so many of them!), and with a healthy sense of humour. His new works from "Dust 2.0" series continue the line of reasoning observed in the "Wrong Paintings", "Grand Prix Remix, and "Beach Culture in Bercsenyi".

In those series, the world is seen from the perspective of a big bag of candies (different tastes, different colours, all mixed-up), or of a generator of randomness: limousines, sexy girls in skimpy outfits, sea-battles, trucks, dogs, blocks of flats... This all might seem unconnected, but they all belong to the same reality of media hyperactivity that results in a deluge of visual information hitting us square on our heads.

Underneath the anarchic facade of wild colours and cars and bodies, the attentive viewer can see that our friend Nicolae is preoccupied by serious problems, such as the strange alienation which many dwellers of urban conglomerates suffer from. Or at least that's what I read in those paintings. You may read what you want, I won't stop you.

The "Dust 2.0" series goes one step further in showing us the darker, even more serious side of Nicolae Comanescu, and this is more than likely aided by restricting the chromatics to various shades of dust. But we have to observe another preoccupation in the artist's mid. These new works depicting the neighbourhood of Berceni literally convey the life of the artist, and I would make so bold as to compare them to Utrillo's Montmartre paintings. What we see is the artist's immediate environment, the places where he spends a great deal of his time, and where some of inspiration comes from.

And they are true portraits of Berceni, too, due to the fact that these works are painted with the native dust of this dusty neighbourhood of Romania's dusty capital. If there ever was a thing that lasted well longer than anything else, then that thing would be Bucharest's dust. And well after all of Bucharest will have fallen into ruin (God willing in a very distant future), there will still be the dust to testify for this great city, just as the dust of a carted-off church went to cry over its former earthly location, as a witness of its former self.

Nicolae Comanescu's Berceni is the very real Berceni you can reach by taking the Magistrala 2 Metro line to Piata Sudului, or the famous tram 34 from Gara de Nord (I would not advise this route because it would take ages to get there). The blocks of flats might look just the same as countless other buildings raised by the former leaders of Romania's recent communist past, but their images set in dust by Nicolae are different.

They are different because the dust they are painted with their own dust, coming from their bricks and mortar and peeling paint, and from adjoining dust-laden streets, alleyways and lawns. The metaphysical sadness of the mostly unloved block of flats comes through its image more than it would show in a photograph. While the photo preserves the (semi)perfect likeness of the building, the image is made by the impression of light on photo-sensible material. And light is always clean. Comanescu's dust paintings are made from primordial matter, from what can be turned to sludge and mud with as little as a light shower.

The paintings in the "Dust 2.0" series have left a mark on my consciousness as indelible as the spots left on my light-grey jeans after hurrying through Bucharest's streets on foot, on a Spring/Autumn/Winter day. If you haven't had this experience, you will not understand me completely. I suggest you go for yourselves on a little walk on any given pavement in Bucharest, in rainy weather. For best results, try a neighbourhood street (although the fully central Piata Rosseti might do just as well), and make it late-Autumn/Winter.

But enough about dust on shoes and trousers. What I would really love to do is to talk more about dust on paintings, or better still, about paintings with dust. I think that Nicolae is the first Romanian artist to treat this underrated medium with the respect it deserves. One of the basest things in life, dirt, has been elevated to the rank of artistic endeavour. The metaphor-lover would go on to say that by this act, the artist has emphasised the transitoriness of life, and that all we are is dust in the wind and from dust we come and to dust we shall return, or even that life is dirt.

But I say no, this time the artist does not propose metaphors, or other meta-meanings. My opinion is that Nicolae has decided to give a voice to his environment, to make his part of Bucharest talk for itself, loud and clear. What can be more direct than the voice of stones and bricks and dust and dirt, if you want to hear the story of a place? (And no, this is not a metaphor).

Let's leave metaphors aside for the time being, and trust what we see, because what we now see is what we get if we go to Berceni tonight (and what we get on our trousers if we walk there in wet weather).

You probably got tired of me by now. I should end it here, but not before I will heap some more praise upon Nicolae Comanescu: the man, the artist, the thinker of genius, the embodiment of the best qualities of the Romanian people, one of the brightest stars in the constellation of leading men and women to have come from the city of Ploiesti.

Enjoy these images, and please try to think about them in the light of my little text. You will then see that this project truly represents Comanescu as a mature artist, as an artist whose humour and insight into life, translated into the language of art, do not need to employ the great array of artifice available to contemporary artists.

Nicolae does not want to con us into believing some well rehearsed theory of art, I am sure of it. He wants us to witness life as it is in his corner of world called Berceni, Sector 4, Bucuresti, Romania.

Mihai Risnoveanu

Praf 2.0

O foarte scurta istorie a prafului in arta

Arta din ziua de azi pare a se folosi de o sumedenie de materiale pentru a se exprima, si chiar se poate lipsi de oarice material concret. Cu toate acestea, exista o substanta in folosinta inca de la aparitia a ceea ce numim arta, in zilele cand stramosii nostri traitori in pestera au inceout sa-si lase amprenta spirituala asupra lumii. Este vorba de praf, pamant, tarana, huma. "Artistul" neolitic si-a imprimat gandul in materie pentru prima data prin folosirea carbunelui si a diferitelor feluri de praf, preferabil cele rosietice. Rezultatele sunt extraordinare chiar si in ziua de azi, dupa mii si mii de ani, si s-au nascut din una dintre cele mai de baza materiale la indemana omului, un "ceva" care zace la toate colturile si oriunde altundeva ne uitam.

Praful in sine nu este foarte versatil si, cu siguranta, stramosii nostri si-au dat seama de aceasta. Rezultatul direct al observatiilor lor a fost ca au inceput sa amestece praful si pamantul cu grasimi animale, pentru a le face sa stea pe peretii pesterilor ceva mai multa vreme. Zece mii de ani este o perioada destul de mare de vreme, si mi-as dori ca multe alte lucrari de arta sa supravietuiasca macar de o suta de ori mai putin. Dar, vedeti dumneavoastra, in ziua de azi nu se mai fac lucruri durabile...

Cu toate acestea, nu ne aflam aici pentru a vorbi despre cat de mult dureaza lucrurile in timp, ci pentru a ne da cu parerea despre cum sunt facute lucrurile si din ce sunt facute. Dupa cum am vazut, a face arta cu ajutorul prafului nu este nimic nou. Inafara de picturile rupestre, praful (sau mai degraba pigmenti speciali obtinuti din soluri speciale) a fost folosit in producerea de vopsele din vremurile vechilor egipteni incoace, de catre popoare din toate colturile lumii. Vom sari peste milenii, deci, si ne vom uita la cum a fost folosit praful in sine in crearea de lucrari de arta contemporana. Nu ne referim la tempera, uleiuri sau guase facute cu pigmenti proveniti din soluri aparte, ci vom voprbi despre praful-praf, acel praf care ti se pune pe haine daca te impiedici si cazi pe trotuar, praful care se lipeste de pantofi si care e maturat de maturatori cu maturoaiele lor cele mari si cu aspiratoare mecanizate si alte unelte de curatat strazile.

Sunt cativa artisti contemporani care si-au lasat amprenta in praf in trecutul foarte recent: Ói voi mentiona doar pe Vik Muniz, Allison Cortson, Mona Vatamanu si Florin Tudor, Zhang Huan. L-am putea mentiona si pe marele Antoni Tapies, precum si pe cativa exponenti ai Poverismului, dar aceasta nu ar face altceva decat sa aduca o alta dimensiune discutiei de fata. Arta cu praf despre care vreau sa va spun este o arta care este intr-adevar conectata cu lumea. Acestei scurte dar nu mai putin ilustre liste il putem adauga pe Nicolae Comanescu, pictorul realitatilor romanesti deconectate.

Dar care este numitorul comun al acestor foarte diferiti artisti: Muniz, Cortson, Floe/Vatamanu, Zhang si Comanescu? Va voi spune tot eu. Numitorul comun este un material de care s-au folosit, un material care are particularitatea de a fi praful si cenusa poporului. Si, fie ca ne place sa nu, praful este personal si ne reprezenta. Lasati-ma sa va explic...

Nu conteaza daca vorbim despre cladiri sau oameni; praful dimprejurul lor este facut, intr-o masura mai mica sau mai mare, din mici particule ale corpurilor lor, particule care au murit si au cazut. In cazul cladirilor, praful lor este format din mici bucatele cazute, in urma frictiunii sau impacturilor, din buildings, din caramizi si ziduri de ciment, dar si din particule aduse din afara lor de catre oamenii care le trec pragul.

In cazul oamenilor, praful lor – din casele sau locurile lor de munca – vine tot din caramizi si ciment, dar si din particule provenind din carti, pantofi, haine si asa mai departe. Si, of course, din particule moarte de piele si par. Deci, praful casei mele ma reprezinta trupeste. Daca cineva ar fi intr-atat de curios incat sa analizeze aceste lucruri la microscop, ar putea spune ce fel de obiecte am prin casa, daca imi place sa port bumbac sau matase, sau chiar daca covoarele mele sunt vechi, si daca am multe carti de o varsta venerabila, si tot asa.

Aceasta a fost ideea pusa in practica de Vik Muniz in marea sa expozitie de la Muzeul Whitney din Statele Unite (2001); acesta este si conceptul din spatele portretelor facute de Allison Cortson.

Muniz, in expozitia "Things Themselves: Pictures of Dust" s-a gandit sa se foloseasca de praful adunat de-a lungul mai multor luni de oamenii de servici ai muzeului. Uitandu-se cu atentie prin mizeria adunata si alegand cu grija, a folosit materialul rezultat la fel cum alti artisti folosesc vopsea si cerneala, pentru a aduce la lumina forme si culori. Bineinteles, efectul obinut a fost acela de fotografie alb/negru: praful pur si simplu nu are o bogatie cromatica.

Muniz, un artist brazilian care traieste in America, este faimos pentru picturile facute din materiale neortodoxe, cum ar fi gelatina sau gemul. Despre experienta sa cu praf, a declarat: "Era praf de la primul etaj care era intunecat la culoare si unsuros. La etajul superiort, se gasea un praf mai deschis la culoare, dar a fost cea mai greu de prelucrat substanta cu care am lucrat vreodata: chestia aia e scarboasa. Praful e facut din particule de par si piele. Cred ca oamenii se scarpina in cap destul de mult cand merg la muzeu; materia respectiva se amesteca cu praful provenind din lucrarile in sine. Asta este cea mai puternica legatura dintre vizitatori si lucrarile din muzeu". (din New York Times Magazine, 11 februarie 2001).

Deci, astfel si prin urmare: lucrarile lui Muniz sunt un "portret" al muzeului,dar si un portret al vizitatorilor. Mai multe despre Vik Muniz la www.vikmuniz.net

Allison Cortson, o artista din America, are un punct de vedere usor diferit. Cortson nu s-a concentrat asupra prafului din institutii publice, ci asupra aceluia din spatii personale, apartamente si case. Portretele naturaliste ale prietenilor si cunostintelor ei sunt completate de reprezentarea spatiului in care acesti oameni traiesc, iar acest este pictat cu ajutorul prafului lor specific. Ce portrete pot fi mai adevarate de atat! Putem vedea oamenii, putem sa le cautam si sa le vedem spiritul in aceste imagini. In plus, putem sa privim la discretie si moleculele vietii lor, derivate (cel putin in parte) din subiectii tabloului. Mai mult Allison Cortson aici: www.thehappylion.com/index.php?artist=cortson&view=list

Pentru a aduce o dimensiune spirituala scurtei noastre istorii a prafului in arta contemporana, l-am mentionat mai devreme pe Zhang Huan. Zhang nu lucreaza cu praf, strict vorbind. Lucreaza cu cenusa, dar cred ca trebuie sa-l includem in acesta mica istorie a prafului artistic. Materia prima a lui Zhang Huan este cenusa lasata de betigasele parfumate care se ard in rugaciunile traditionale budiste in templele din Shanghai. Cenusa nu reprezinta subiectii artei la fel de bine precum o face praful din muzee si case, dar provenind din temple, cenusa reprezinta sperantele si aspiratiile suplicantilor.

Daca ne-am da in vant dupa fraze pompoase, am putea spune ca avem de-a face cu o metafora a sperantelor si rugaciunilor umanitatii – dar nu vom spune asa ceva, pentru ca intamplarea face sa nu ne placa deloc cuvantarile pline de metafore. Cea mai recenta expozitie a lui Zhang Huan a avut loc in octombrie-noiembrie 2007, la galeria Haunch of Venison din Londra. Aici, artistul a expus pictura (facuta cu vopsea-praf) si sculptura facuta din cenusa compactata. Expozitia a fost transferata la Haunch of Venison Berlin, unde noutatea este adusa de un Buddha de patru metri, facut tot din cenusa compactata. (detalii aici: www.haunchofvenison.com/en/#page=berlin.current.zhang_huan)

Aceasta dimensiune spirituala a artei mi-a adus aminte de o lucrare/interventie/performance a artistilor romani Mona Vatamanu si Florin Tudor, care, intamplator, sunt fosti colegi de grup artistic cu Nicolae, in grupul Rostopasca care a fost cel mai cel mai grup in arta romaneasca a anilor 1998-2000.

Biserica manastirii Schitul Maicilor din Bucuresti este o cladire care, in anul 1982, a fost literalmente aburcata pe sine si mutata vreo doua sute de metri mai la vale pentru a face loc pentru un corp de blocuri de apartamente socialiste. In 2006, Mona si Florin au mers in locul unde se afla biserica acum si au cules un morman de praf. Acest praf a fost apoi dus in locul unde se afla odata constructia. Astfel, intr-un mod simbolic dar si la modul fizic, vechea biserica si-a regasit vechiul loc in lume. Am putea spune ca cei doi artisti au incercat sa repare prin aceasta actiune o nedreptate istorica, si anume demolarea unei bune parti a Bucurestiului vechi pentru a face loc Casei Poporului, actualul Palat al Parlamentului. Mai multe despre Mona si Florin la www.monavatamanuflorintudor.ro

Si acum, scumpi prieteni, putem incepe sa vorbim despre al nostru Nicolae Comanescu, pictorul al carui proiect nou-nout il veti vedea in cele ce urmeaza.

Chiar de cand l-am cunoscut, Nicolae a fost genul de om gata oricand sa stea la bancuri, dar si gata sa execute un spit in posteriorul Stabilimentului cultural. Lucrand impreuna cu colegii sai din Rostopasca, Nicolae a facut exact aceasta: s-a distrat, s-a distrat pe seama aerelor scenei artei contemporane din Romania si – foarte important – -ia provocat pe somnolentii tineri artisti sa treaca la actiune. Sau poate in acele zile, tinerii artisti nu prea faceau mare lucru.

Au trecut de multe zilele in care Nicolae omora, dimpreuna cu colegii Rostopascieni, categoria estietica de "dragut", si punea casete cu diatribe comune despre tot si despre toate (care fusesera, probabil, atatate si ajutate si de aburii alcoolului). Domnul Comanescu a crescut si ajuns pictor, si un pictor foarte bun chiar. Nicolae e un pictor alert la ciudatenile vietii urbane din Bucuresti (si bunul Dumnezeu stie ca-s multe, multe!), dar si cu foarte sanatos simt al umorului. Noile sale lucrari din seria "Praf 2.0" continua rationamentul artistic observat in seriile "Wrong Paintings", "Grand Prix Remix, si "Beach Culture in Bercsenyi".

In aceste lucrari, lumea este vazuta din perspectiva unei pungi mari, transparente, plina cu bomboane (gusturi si arome diferite, culori de toate felurile, si totul un mare talmes-balmes), sau din aceea a unui generator de aleatoriu: limuzine, fete sexy in mai mult dezbracate, batalii maritime, camioane, catei, blocuri de apartamente... Lucrurile aceste par a nu fi conectate in vreun fel. Dar ele fac parte din aceeasi realitate a hiperactivitatii mediatice care rezulta in barajul informational ce ne pocneste in moalele capului zi de zi.

Sub fatada anarhica de culori crude si masini si trupuri, atentul observator va vedea ca prietenul nostru Nicolae este preocupat de probleme serioase precum ciudata alienare specifica multor locuitori ai marilor aglomeratii urbane. Cel putin, asta vad eu. Dumneavoastra aveti libertatea de a vedea altceva, nu trebuie sa va luati dupa mine.

Seria de lucrari "Praf 2.0" merge mai departe in a ne prezenta fateta mai intunecata si mai serioasa a lui Nicolae Comanescu. Acest fapt este, cu siguranta, inlesnit de restrangerea paletei cromatice la doar cateva grade de gri-praf. Dar observam si o alta preocupare a artistului. Noile tablouri prezentand imagini din cartierul Berceni vin literalmente din viata lui. As fi intr-atat de indraznet incat sa le compar, in scop, cu scenele din Montmartre ale lui Utrillo. Putem vedea cu totii mediul imediat inconjurator al artistului Comanescu, locurile unde isi petrece o mare parte a timpului sau si de unde se inspira.

Si aceste lucrari sunt adevarate portrete ale Bercenilor, deoarece sunt produse praful specific si neaos al acestui cartier prafuit din prafoasa capitala a Romaniei. Daca a existat vreodata ceva care sa dureze mult mai mult de alte lucruri, atunci acel ceva trebuie ca este praful Bucurestiului. Mult vreme dupa ce orasul se va fi transformat in praf si pulbere (cu voia Domnului intr-un viitor foarte indepartat), se va mai gasi inca praful sau pentru a depune marturie pentru acest mare oras, tot asa precum praful unei biserici stramutate a mers sa planga asupra oaselor fostei sale locuinte pamantesti, ca martor al fostei sale existente.

Bercenii lui Nicolae Comanescu sunt foarte realul cartier Berceni unde puteti ajunge cu Magistrala 2 Metro pana la Piata Sudului, sau cu faimosul tramvai 34 de la Gara de Nord (nu as recomanda ruta asta deoarece v-ar lua o vesnicie sa ajungeti acolo). Blocurile de apartamente arata la fel ca nenumaratele blocuri ridicate de fostii conducatori ai trecutului comunist recent, dar imaginile lor fixate in praf sunt diferite.

Si sunt diferite deoarece praful imaginii le este familiar, e un praf care vine din caramizile si mortarul lor, si din zugraveala cojita si cazuta, si din prafuitele strazi, alei si zone verzi din apropiere. Tristetea metafizica a neiubitelor blocuri de apartamente strabate imaginea fixata in praf mai mult decat dintr-o fotografie. In timp ce o poza pastreaza imaginea (semi)perfecta a cladirii, ea este creata din impresia lasata de lumina pe o suprafata fotosensibila. Iar lumina este intotdeauna curata. Picturile din praf ale lui Comanescu sunt facute din materie primordiala, din ceva ce se trasnforma in namol si noroi cu un minim de ploaie.

Picturile din seria "Praf 2.0" m-au marcat cu o urma pe atat de nesters precum petele lasate pe jeansii mei gri deschis cand ma grabeam pe jos pe strazile capitalei, in zile de primavara/toamna/iarna. Daca nu ati intalnt acest tip de experienta pana acum, nu ma veti putea intelege pe deplin. Va sugerez sa mergeti si dumneavoastra intr-o mica plimbare pe orice trotuar bucurestean, pe vreme ploioasa. Pentru rezultate optime, incercati o strada de cartier (cu toate ca si Piata Rosseti din buricul targului e la fel de buna), cel mai bine toamna tarziu sau iarna.

Dar am vorbit deja prea mult de praf pe pantofi si pantaloni. Ceea ce mi-ar placea cel mai mult sa fac acum ar fi sa vorbesc despre praful de pe tablouri, sau mai bine de tablourile facute cu praf. Cred ca Nicolae este primul artist roman care a tratat acest mediu subestimat cu respectul pe care il merita. Praful unul din cele mai josnice materiale din lume, a fost elevat la rangul de preocupare artistica. Iubitorul d emetafore ar merge intr-atat de departe incat sa spuna ca prin acest act, artistul accentueaza has tranziitivitate vietii, si ca nu suntem decat praf in vant, ca din tarana venim si in tarana ne intoarcem, sau chiar ca viata este o mizerie.

Dar eu zic ca nu e asa. De aceasta data, artistul nu propune metafore sau alte meta-intelesuri. Eu cred ca Nicolae s-a decis sa dea glas ambientului sau sai faca acea parte a Bucurestiului sa vorbeasca de la sine, puternic si raspicat. Ce poate fi mai direct decat vocea insasi a pietrelor, caramizilor, prafului si mizeriei, atunci cand vrei sa asculti povestea unui loc? (nu, aceasta nu e o metafora).

Haideti sa lasam metaforele sa se odihneasca acasa pentru moment, si sa ne incredem in ceea ce vedem pentru ca, de aceasta data, ceea ce vedem este ceea ce este, daca mergem in Berceni in seara asta (si ceea ce se va lua pe pantalonii nostri daca mergem pe acolo cand ploua afara).

Probabil v-am obosit destul deja. Ar trebui sa termin aici si acum, dar nu pot face aceasta inainte de a-l mai lauda un pic pe Nicolae Comanescu: omul, artistul, ganditorul de geniu, intruparea celor mai bune calitati ale poporului roman, una dintre cele mai stralucitoare stele din constelatia de barbati si femei de seama care sa fi venit din orasul Pitesti.

Sper sa va placa aceste imagin si v-as ruga sa ganditi la ele in lumina micului meu text. Veti vedea, astfel, ca acest proiect il reprezinta intr-adevar pe Comanescu ca un artist matur, un artist al carui umor si punct clar de vedere asupra vietii atunci cand sunt transpuse in limbajul artei nu au nevoie sa foloseasca marele arsenal de smecherii aflate la dispozitia artistilor contemporani.

Nicolae nu vrea sa ne fraiereasca pentru a ajunge sa credem o mult repetata teorie artistica, sunt sigur de aceasta. Nicolae Comanescu vrea ca si noi sa fim martorii directi ai vietii din acest colt de lume numit Berceni, Sector 4, Bucuresti, Romania.

dust 2 dust

Nicolae Comanescu doesn't dust off. He paints for you with some Bucharest dust a new facade.
The dust settles everywhere - on you, on the furniture, on the window pane, on the plants in your room, the computer and the car hood.
There is no sense in getting rid of it. The more you see work being done in the city the more dust gets produced. They are digging now for more dust.
This dust of Bucharest is the living grit of this city. Fragments from everything around us gather and collapse together. A powder composed out of earth, sand, scruff, dead skin cells, acarian droppings, and a lot of lost particles, blown around. The dust gets everywhere and maybe it is the most basic ingredient of this city. It has a double origin. It is part of the Great Baragan Plain, the proof of desertification and errosion. And it is also rising from the trenches of unfinished construction sites, eating into the guts of the capital. The blocks, the streets, the rooftops are not visible any more trough some fake sepia - the false preciosity of the past. Nicolae Comanescu reports on a city suffering under heat stroke, baking under the Simun, blowing North of Sahara. Bucharest city - the city seen only with dust in your eyes on top of your block of flats. Gone are the big city traps, sprung in this Las Vegas of the South, shining under cazino lights. Left behind is a metropolis griding your teeth to dust.

dust 2 dust

Nicolae Comanescu nu sterge praful. El picteaza cu praf bucurestean o noua fatada.
Praful se asterne peste tot - pe tine, pe mobile, pe pervaz, pe ficusul din camera, pe calculator si pe capota masinii.
Degeaba il stergi. Cu cat se lucreaza mai mult in oras cu atat se strange mai mult. Se sapa acum in cautare de praf nou.
Practic praful bucurestiul e pilitura vie a acestui oras. Fragmente din tot ce exista in jur se strang laolalta. O pulbere compusa din pamant, nisip, sticla, scame, celule de piele moarta, acarieni, si multe alte particule pierdute si spulberate in jur.
Praful ajunge peste tot si poate el este componenta de baza a Bucurestiului. Provenienta lui este dubla. Provine din marea Campie a Baraganului, dovada a eroziunii pamantului si desertificarii. Dar provine si din transeele santierelor care pustiesc maruntaiele capitalei. Blocurile, strazile, acoperisurile sale nu mai sunt privite printr-o pelicula sepia care sa ii confere o pretiozitate falsa. Nicolae Comanescu reuseste sa redea identitatea unui Bucuresti canicular prin care bate Simun-ul la Nord de Sahara. Un Bucuresti pe care nu il poti vedea decat cu praf in ochi de pe acoperisul blocului tau. Au disparut mirajele marelui oras, crescute in acest Las Vegas din pustiul Sudului, luminat de cazinouri noaptea. In urma a ramas o metropola care iti scransneste printre dinti.

Stefan Tiron

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