Galeria Plan B presents the solo exhibition of Ciprian Muresan.
“The works are in a palpable, but not unequivocal, relation with religious art and/or religion. What kind of relationship is this?
At first glance, one can notice that all three types of works in the exhibition feed upon copying Christian art: in the case of the leaning wooden churches (which reminds me more of Tatlin’s Tower than the Leaning Tower of Pisa) and the drawings on glass, Muresan works with his now permanent palimpsest method: copying by drawing entire books on certain topics (such as a catalogue of the Uffizi or an album on Romanian glass icons). By overlapping images on one another, they lose their initial “aura” and receive new meanings, while visually become a crafty arabesque – the signature of the artist.
But what happens when Muresan paints a large wall and engages an entire team of painters and assistants to reproduce to scale the western wall of the church of the Voroneț Monastery? That wall, famously holding the painting of the Last Judgement, is considered to be the most important, the most iconic achievement of Romanian medieval art. In Romanian culture, this UNESCO heritage site is valued, as the Eastern and Orthodox synthesis of the Renaissance, artistically equal and simultaneously realized with what may be considered as the Occidental synthesis, Michelangelo’s Last Judgment in the Sistine Chapel.
The fresco’s current state is copied together with the blank spots, erased surfaces and other traces of the passing time, while the carrier is just a wing – there is nothing behind. There is no space beyond it, no real place left for believers to worship. The wing is mounted on tracks on which it moves back and forth, back and forth, either cornering the gallery visitor or maybe funnily scaring one with the horrors of the Last Judgment. The movement of the wall on tracks also reminds us of how a church was saved in Bucharest during Ceausescu’s urban planning, by literarily moving it a few meters on tracks, to make space for a boulevard.
When viewing Ciprian Muresan’s works, a good amount of our perception is focused on the cultural references he is working with. He chooses strong images to which one is culturally conditioned to react. It takes an effort to escape that reaction in order to see what the artist is actually doing with the image. His quotations are not plain, postmodern easy loans. There is the assiduity of a monastery copyist in his work: he really goes through what he is copying. He is not servile to the art he is copying, but he is also never just ironical towards the process. He continuously avoids being too serious in his approach (and this is his approach), but does not fall into mere mocking.
The church wall depicting the Last Judgment moves back and forth, the wood board churches lean, the glass icon palimpsest is transparent and cracked – all these patchwork-like features would let us believe that they are serving a critique to the institution of Church or Religion; or that there is an interpretation of society and history as something falling apart.
But things can be read the other way around, as a counter-kintsugi: not the adhesive, but the fragments themselves seem to be made of gold in Muresan’s work. Indeed, he is easily tearing apart his arduously produced drawings to put them together in a bricolage church. The ironical gesture of the postmodern quotation clashes with the hermit-like copyist patience. What at first seems to be deconstruction is instead construction. Who is the incorrigible believer?”
Ciprian Muresan, born 1977 in Dej, Romania, lives and works in Cluj. Previous solo exhibitions and projects include: Art Club 22: Ciprian Muresan, Accademia di Francia a Roma – Villa Medici, Rome (2018); Museo Pietro Canonica a Villa Borghese, Rome (2016); Your survival is guaranteed by treaty, Ludwig Museum, Budapest (2015); Recycled Playground, Contemporary Art Gallery, Vancouver (2013); All that work for nothing! That’s what I try to do all the time!, Plan B, Berlin (2013); Tate Modern, London (2012, with Anna Molska); Contemporary Art Center, Geneva (2012); FRAC Champagne-Ardenne, Reims (2011); Neuer Berliner Kunstverein, Berlin (2010). Group exhibitions include: A Slice through the World: Contemporary Artist’s Drawings, Modern Art Oxford and Drawing Room, London (2018); Viva Arte Viva, 57th Venice Biennale (2017); Remastered – The Art of Appropriation, Kunsthalle Krems, Krems (2017); Freundschaftsspiel Istanbul: Freiburg, Museum fur Neue Kunst, Freiburg (2016); Cher(e)s Ami(e)s. New presentation of works from the collection, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2016); Drawing Biennial 2015, Drawing Room, London (2015); Mapping Bucharest: Art, Memory and Revolution 1916 – 2016, MAK, Vienna (2015); Allegory of the Cave Painting, Extracity Kunsthalle, Museum Middelheim, Antwerp (2014); Analogital, Utah Museum of Contemporary Art, Salt Lake City (2013); Six Lines of Flight, Museum of Modern Art (MOMA), San Francisco (2012); Promises From the Past, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2010); Witte de With, Rotterdam (2010); The Seductiveness of the Interval, the Romanian Pavilion at the 53rd Venice Biennale (2009); The Generational: Younger Than Jesus, New Museum, New York (2009).all images © the gallery and the artist(s)