Tue 12 Sep 2023 to Sat 7 Oct 2023
Artist: Mircea Suciu
Opening: Tuesday 12 September, 6pm
This first exhibition of Romanian artist Mircea Suciu at Galerie Mennour presents a series of his most recent paintings, which the artist has gathered under the generic title Earthly Delights. The title refers to Hieronymus Bosch’s famous painting The Garden of Earthly Delights, and is also inspired by André Gide’s Fruits of the Earth.
For the artist, the word “delights” in the context of the images in the series refers not to amenities, but to the weaknesses of man and it’s human finitude, being used rather in an ironic sense. In the upper part of each composition we distinguish photographic images depicting religious scenes from Pentecostal ceremonies, scenes in which figures are captured in ecstasy at various music concerts, erotic scenes from famous films, portraits of the mentally ill, taken from the archives of Professor Jean-Martin Charcot at the Salpêtrière Hospital, and séances. Although these images are apparently discordant, they are in fact complementary and constitute a fragment of the image of humanity that the artist is studying and highlighting, the main themes being sexuality, religion, anxiety, religious ecstasy and mass hysteria. Photographic images are accompanied by pictorial images. The paintings are influenced by Spanish and Dutch Baroque. In particular, the famous “bodegón” style, in which 17th-century figures appear in still life and chiaroscuro is used systematically. Hallucinogenic mushrooms, a piece of meat, a poppy flower, a pine cone or a walnut — these images are generally chosen for their symbolic value. The pine cone appears in the designs of esoteric traditions such as Freemasonry, Theosophy, Gnosticism and esoteric Christianity.
The idea is to establish a relationship between images in the same composition, in order to create a logical sense of understanding. Some painted images have an ironic presence, there to deepen the drama or tension of the photographic image. In some cases, the painted images are abstract gestures that replace the objects. They are gestures that illustrate the emotion the artist feels towards the photographic image. He creates this type of image that avoids narrative to create a relationship with the other paintings in the series. The series is conceived as a whole, in which we understand the need for rhythm, harmony and intermissions. The way he has painted the images in the lower sections is almost baroque. In most cases, he has worked in several layers, finishing with a patina. In this way, he tries to give the painted image a timeless character. On the photographic image, Mircea Suciu intervened with white acrylic color, with the aim of blurring the photographic qualities, the pixelated details, the perfection of the print. Over the years, Suciu has developed his own graphic style incorporating different media, which he calls “monotype”. After transferring a photographic image to canvas, he applies acrylic and oil paints. The monotype allows him to balance the composition, while the paint adds color and texture to the work. This is a personal invention, an acrylic- based transfer from black and white acetate film onto a wooden support. The process is unique in the sense that it is no longer possible to make editions from a single image.
The composition is like a mood painting. The photographic image induces a pictorial reaction. This type of composition is reminiscent of Robert Rauschenberg and the way he created his images.
Mircea Suciu thus develops the links between an intense, raw reality captured in photographic images and culture as a remedy, a means of balancing or correcting a society in perdition. The relationship between images in the same composition is both simple and complex. There is an apparent conflict or opposition between them. It’s a relationship between popular and classical culture.
— Ami Barak
Mircea Suciu, born in 1978 in Baia Mare (RO), lives and works in Cluj-Napoca (RO). Through the seemingly eclectic choice of his images, he strives to achieve iconicity in a world dominated by a multitude of images. Anxiety, violence and oppression have always been important themes in Suciu’s work. He grew up under a Communist dictatorship, which led him to take an interest in how images work, how they can be manipulated. Today, things are no better, and the excess and manipulation of images are a constant source of fake and abuse.
Mircea Suciu has had solo exhibitions at /SAC Malmaison (Bucharest) and the Mnac National Museum of Contemporary Art (Bucharest). He has taken part in several biennials and triennials, including the
Bruges Triennial, the 11th Istanbul Biennial and the 4th Prague Biennial in 2009, the 10th Gwangju Biennial in South Korea in 2014 and the 2nd Art Encounters Biennial in Timisoara in 2017. His work has been shown in group exhibitions at the MARe Museum of Recent Art (Bucharest), Kunstmuseum Bochum, Weserburg Museum (Bremen), Museum Beelden aan Zee (The Hague), Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art, Espace Louis Vuitton (Paris), Fondation Francès (Senlis), Maison Particulière (Brussels), MODEM Center for Modern and Contemporary Art (Debrecen) and Budapest Hall of Art, (Hungary).