Artists: Adrian Preda Stefan Ungureanu George Anghelescu

The city dweller's woe with himself

I'm from Bucharest. To me, the Bosom of Abraham means Cimigiu garden, where I grew up, the vacant lot where I used to play football, the winding, lugubrious alleys between communist blocks, as well as the long yards of merchant houses covered in vines, the hallucinating smell of linden trees in the first days of summer, or wet concrete after a hearty summer rain. Despite these „madeleines”, I can say that urban dwelling is a restraint. What does living „in the city” mean? It's somewhat a „mental” dwelling, and not a „natural” one. We live in a labyrinthic universe, where concrete reaches out to the sky, obliterating it. The city lights cancel the Milky Way. The city is an area of straight lines, a place of residence not for the Elements, but, rather, for dust. Everything is split between culture, history and politics. The primary emotion in the face of life is difficult to regain by a city-dweller, and is, generally, an act of tourism.  On a holiday, we line up on concrete roads, determined to return to nature. Obviously, this act is more a consumerist one, and less a real-life one. The citizen is fully integrated within culture, he is a man of spirit, who discards all else: family, tribe, soul, world, God. He is a subtle neurotic who lives in the tangible. The city dweller produces culture, texts, politics, excess waste and neurosis.

Stefan Ungureanu - George Anghelescu - Adrian Preda (UAP) are all from Bucharest. For the past decade, I've become accustomed to the artists of my generation considering the urban way to be artificial and oppressive. These three use the city as their premise. As such, all three exhibit the obligatory urban reflex: hyper-symbolism. The world is no longer „full of gods” for a city-dweller, which is why art is the only means of finding refuge in laying out a well-structured value hierarchy. The UAP works are all worlds carefully built symbolically, and each of the three emphasises a front of the dramatic battle between the city-dweller and the world  he's invented. Thus, George Angelescu constructs a semidiabolical theatrical altar, with an internal therapeutic function.Why is such therapy needed? Because we are lone, secular, autonomous citizens. What sacerdotal instruments could we invent to rein in our neurosis? Here is George's answer:

„Violence and Death are the only truths, realities I am incapable of understanding or resignation. This fact transforms the pair of diptychs on display into a pornographic representation of the aforementioned mattersfears), in the real, aggressive but ambiguous, sense of the word(where sex is missing).

Reason is trapped within a liminal space, from why I attempt to extract myself, through symbolic and conceptual exorcism, through castrating these matters. Violence thus becomes an impersonal act, missing its blunt arsenal, where characters cancelled into anonymity are suspended contrastfully in ample, pathetic, baroque positions, finally leading to glorious, but incomplete death. The body is alive. It is a kind of doppelgänger  of myself, but, more so, of my existential uncertainty.” (George Angelescu)

Stefan Ungureanu is a cerebral being. His works are a philosophical attempt at portraying urban nature in its „rummaging” dimension. Here is the argument: the city is made in man's image. It means exploitation. Here are the stages of exploitation. Here are our faces. We rummage, and move things around, while maintaining our awareness of it. The last possible miracle is a scientific one, which we observe without fear or terror, but with the cold objectivity of a presidium.The battlefield is, in this case, the carcinous way a city-dweller relates to his city.

Open exploitation as closed systems

Reduce, reuse, rationalise; three „urges”, each pertaining to a state of exploitation: abundance, systematisation and understanding, the finite.

The pieces are a search for understanding the manner in which pre-established systems function as pretext for shaping our own understanding of things; they document the three stages of exploitation, and underline the „richest”, most specific and defining moment of our interaction with the environment: somewhere between the post-discovery abundance, and the end of the systematisation time(growth/evolution area that you want to continue/prolongue/replicate).” Stefan Ungureanu

Lastly, Adrian Preda is the most serene of the three. His works are an attempt at dreaming within concrete. The underlying question is evident: can we recompose, through poetry, the initial „emotion” and „marvel”? Animals are, most of the time, a strange intrusion in the urban scenery. The beasts are „tamed” in the city. With Preda, the „natural” gently invades the town in an unimaginable, edenic image.

The „Oxen Truck” are a subseries of a more ample project titled TRANS-, which basically refers to transport, transit, transience, transcendence and transitory quality of things, and their ever-changing nature, of the continual transformation we're under.

The automobile is the central element, because it describes the idea of passage through time and space really well. Also, through its structure and function, it helps me swing back and forth between artificial and natural (an important theme of mine), between man-made objects and living organisms.” (Adrian Preda)

„But the most decisive innovation was that by harnessing the ox man began to control and use a motive power other than that furnished by his own muscular energy. The ox was the first step to the steam engine and petrol motor.”(Gordon Childe, “What happened in history”)

„Natural” is built using concrete, activism, or urban symbolism. It is a „phenomenon” gaining intensity and consequence.

 Dan Popescu