curated by Maria Rus Bojan
Prometeogallery di Ida Pisani is pleased to announce the opening of the exhibition “Trauma of the Exposed Body”, the first solo project of the acclaimed Romanian artist Ion Grigorescu, in the gallery’s premises in the Church San Matteo, Lucca.
Curated by Maria Rus Bojan, the exhibition revisits an important period from his creation, presenting works from the end of the 1970’s, when the artist investigated body issues through self-performative practices and also newer works, in which the body plays a central role.
Within the recent history of Romanian art, Ion Grigorescu has been one of the first artists who examined the social and cultural significance of body art, providing a new conceptual framework for defining a particular neo-avant garde that underlines the dramatic shift in the conception of the artistic subject.
Embracing a rather particular mix of approaches and spiritual perspectives, Ion Grigorescu practices body art as a mode of transfiguring himself, and as a tool to interrogate the meaning of his own existence, and also of the human condition in general.
”Trauma of the Exposed Body” is an artistic approach that reiterates the idea that the essence of life is inscribed on our body. Referring to the biblical moment when Adam and Eve, having disobeyed God by tasting fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, lose their innocence and become suddenly aware of their nakedness, Grigorescu emphasizes his own trauma caused by revealing his nude body in front of divinity. A practicing Christian and an artist who earned his existence by painting orthodox churches, Grigorescu underlines that the biblical sense of nudity indicates man’s spiritual purity and therefore, it is not a sacrilege, nor an offense to present himself naked before God.
The exhibition describes the artist’s struggle to conciliate the fundamental contradiction between his desire of experiencing nakedness as an expression of primordial spiritual purity and the traumatic acknowledgement of the original sin. Considering that too many layers had covered the spiritual nakedness of this world, Ion Grigorescu has chosen the oldest church from Lucca, the 10th century Romanic Basilica San Matteo, as a background for a spiritual unfolding of his ritual of harmonizing the body and mind. One can perceive this performative approach as a ritual of healing and of liberation from dogma and prejudice.
Conceived to work as a single installation, the display alternates projected images alluding to Christianity from his most famous 1970’s series of photographic works, such as “Ritual Bath” and “Washing with Light “, with mundane elements such as “White Wash”, “Braiding Hair”, “Athletics” or “Homage to Muybridge”, and with a more recent video projection entitled “Start”. The aim is to create the impression of a performative frieze that adds a different layer to the already sacred and charged space of the church.
Ion Grigorescu – born in 1945 in Bucharest, where he lives and works – is one of the most important representatives of performance and conceptual art in Romania and Eastern Europe. After 1989 he gained international recognition, and his works were shown at important exhibitions such as the São Paulo Art Biennial (1981 and 1994), Wanderlieder, Stedelijk Museum, Amsterdam (1991); Le corps photographié, FRAC Alsace (1996); The Body and The East, Moderna Galerija, Ljubljana; Out of Action, Museum of Contemporary Art, Los Angeles (1998). Among his most recent exhibitions are Ostalgia, New Museum, New York (2011), Les Promesses du passé, Centre Pompidou, Paris (2011), and the solo exhibitions at the Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw (2009), and the National Museum of Art, Cluj-Napoca, Romania (2011). He represented Romania at the Venice Biennale in 1997 and 2011.