March 16, 2005 - National Museum of Contemporary Art (MNAC), Bucharest - MUZEUL DE PICTURA / THE PAINTING MUSEUM
March 16, 2005

MUZEUL DE PICTURA / THE PAINTING MUSEUM

Ion Bitzan, Meeting for Peace, 1987.

Muzeul de Pictura / The Painting Museum 
16 March – 22 May

National Museum of Contemporary Art Bucharest
Palatul Parlamentului, aripa E4
Entrance Calea 13 Septembrie
Wednesday – Sunday 10.00 – 18.00
T 004021 4111040
www.mnac.ro

info [​at​] mnac.ro

‘The Painting Museum’ is a project that engages critically a sizeable portion of the museum’s collection – its ‘dark side’. It will look at the representations of communist power, the official portraits of dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, the deviances of Socialist Realism and the chances of a public debate on the subject fifteen years after the Romanian revolution.

The curatorial strategy negotiates between showing and hiding the images, describing in a sense their post-revolutionary history: seldom openly discussed, yet always there, in the back of our minds, in the psychic backyard of unexamined recent history. Alongside conventional modes of presentation, the exhibition makes use of alternative spaces inside the museum, residual spaces left behind after the conversion of a wing in Palace of the Parliament (formerly known as the House of the People, the second largest building in the world and in itself the most obscenely triumphant symbol of communist power) into a gallery for contemporary art. In a sense, this strategy seeks to decontaminate the new space of the museum, as the curator describes the corridors between original wall and museum wall as encapsulating fifteen years of post-revolutionary history.

The works in question articulate a virtually complete history of modern art, as the authors resorted to various styles and stylistic devices to embellish – and seemingly diversify – an encomium which is fundamentally the same, the endless repetition of the same statement about authority and submission. From the ‘Rousseau Ceausescu’ to the ‘Jasper Johns Ceausescu’, the artists deploy indiscriminate metaphors, crooked readings of Romanian history and puzzling details, creating an official iconography with many involuntary lapses and a great dosage of tragic humor. Ranging from the picturesque to the sheer grotesque, this polymorphous portrait of Nicolae Ceausescu introduces viewers to a biologic enigma. The subject seems unaffected by age, he actually grows younger, a process which culminates with a 1989 portrait of blossoming strength and youthful confidence. He is seen working on the country’s many construction sites, visiting factories or villages, in ‘permanent dialogue with the people’. He is the prototype of the ‘the new man’, which communist propaganda imposed as the fundamental aim of Romanian society.

‘The Painting Museum’ aims to launch a debate about essential questions of Romanian recent history, the communist and post-communist syndrome, investigating the contemporary reception and significance of these images and their role in the history of Romanian art. The exhibition is the first step in a long-term, cross-disciplinary research about the works and the period they represent.

Sound installation: Aurel Cornea

Texts: Matei Bejenaru, Cosmin Costinas, Catalin Gheorghe, Mihnea Mircan, Andrei Siclodi, Stefan Tiron, Raluca Velisar. The texts will be available starting from 16 march on www.mnac.ro

Curator: Florin Tudor

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