Victor Man

Victor Man

Centre international d'art et du paysage, Vassivière Island

Victor Man

February 9, 2009

Victor Man
February 15th – June 7h 2009

Opening 14 february 2009 at 5 pm

Curator Chiara Parisi

Ile de Vassivière F – 87120
+33 5 55 69 27 27
communication [​at​]

The Centre international d’art et du paysage at Vassivière island is proud to present the first individual exhibition in France of Victor Man (born in 1974 in Cluj in Romania, where he lives and works). Attebasile will be inaugurated at 5 pm on 14 February and opened to the public from 15 February to 7 June 2009.

Presented in collaboration with the Ikon Gallery in Birmingham, Attebasile offers works of the last two years of the artist’s work: paintings, sculptures, wall drawings and new productions, accompanied by a book projected by the artist himself.

As a preamble to the exhibit, Attebasile introduces us to Victor Man’s singular and atypical universe. The dark and irreducible melancholy that impregnates the body of his work has found in Vassivière island a naturally mimetic place where the artist is able to confront the force of spaces both natural and architectural (designed by Aldo Rossi).

In terms of narrative construction, Victor Man’s work can be compared to incomplete phrases which fail to state anything conclusive, so they create a sort of disorientation. This strategy of work not being completely exposed is already evident in the actual title, whose significance the artist has no desire to reveal, and reaches its peak in the open area that begins in the sculpture garden and stretches over the spaces of the Art Center. Victor Man introduces into the sense–producing realm a series of elements associating pairs of representations that generate an infinite amount of possible interpretations.

Transylvania, the region of Romania where Victor Man is from, has strong historical links with Hungary, where the artist’s maternal ancestors hail from; both places remained under Turkish domination for almost two centuries.

His work is often autobiographical, such as the small-dimensioned assemblages of pictorial work, wall drawings and sculptures that bring together various references to his birthplace. Parallel to this, the artist examines the historical changes in this new European geography by analyzing questions and objects that allude to local traditions turned obsolete.

Victor Man is considered to be one of the great interpreters of human gestures, which with strong photographic precision and immense talent he grasps in the way he fixes the immediacy of the instant. In his poetic credo, the questions of political and national identity overlay a reflection on violence and man’s condition of solitude.

Memory – deconstruction

“Painting for me is a daily routine that enables me to avoid falling into boredom and inactivity. I need to ‘do’ things every day.” The objects and images used by Victor Man hark back to a more or less recent past and focus precisely on the actions of passing time. Certain objects out of context suggest new stories. By voiding the images of their initial contents and extirpating their original meaning, Victor Man allows for possible new readings. Only a part of the original remains intact: stealing their soul is the last action that the artist performs before he reintroduces them in a new context.

What is important in the images is the impression of déjà-vu that they inspire, the innuendo-filled story they imply as if they were ghosts of something that they used to be. In his paintings and in certain drawings, the artist demonstrates particular attention to the past and a will to reconstruct a personal memory.

Attebasile on Vassivière island

The exhibit starts in the forest on Vassivière island, where we find a young tree covered in fox skins. As time passes, on account of the rough and rigorous weather at Vassivière, these skins become soaked in rain and humidity, then they freeze and dry in the sun and the wind and eventually disintegrate.

In the interior of the Art Center, the works presented remain dark in the chromatic gamut and imaginary universe of the subjects, with the emerging themes referring to a voyeuristic taste in the way that objects are revealed, linked to a world that lies beyond normal perception. These somber paintings contemplate objects and images through a black mirror, a device that distances act from representation. The feminine figures appear in different works tied to symbols of an erotic nature, joined to wolves and foxes that arouse a great variety of associations. Notions of the unconscious, of a parallel world where new codes and new existences can be installed, are constant allusions to an imaginary sphere that upsets figures and objects.

Here we see the dichotomy between the images used and their disfigurations superimposed on other dichotomies like contrasts between clear and dark in the chromatic gamut of the paintings, and between surface and depth in the installations. Paintings and installations can be read metaphorically; these are works that make allusions to events that the artist perceives or furtively observes, just as the ensemble of the exhibit speaks of disquiet and malaise.

The works found in the nave convey a troubling and disorienting feeling of malaise that is underlined by the artist’s intervention in blocking the view of the hall with a mysterious black curtain made of felt. This opaque cloth, hanging from one of the roof’s iron structures, lends movement to the architecture itself, and thanks to its inordinate size creates in space an ambiguous presence that we are unsure of: is it there to conceal or to reveal?

Mihai Viteazul, (brave Mihai) is the wall drawing that introduces and accompanies the other works in this hall, a monumental work that functions as the physical and conceptual prolongation of all the other works in the exhibit. The character of Mihai Viteazul is taken from a comic strip created by the artist in 1984, at the age of ten, to tell the adventures of Romania’s national hero of the 17th century, the vassal prince whose action made him the fundamental element of territorial unification. This figure, born of Victor Man’s very young spirit, imposes itself as an enormous architectural and visual structure that invades the nave of the Art Center.

In the middle of the nave Victor Man proposes a fragile architecture, Untitled (2007), a work comprised of an assemblage of odd elements: a fox skin, a plexiglas box, an old wooden school chair covered in a mosquito screen. This ensemble balances precariously on a wooden base. Hanging from the feet of the chair and partly concealed under a transparent veil, the body of a fox strikes the visitors as the simple element of a complex narrative structure.

The study room offers the visitors another zone of the artist’s ambiguous universe, with his drawing of a fight between bodies and animals, among them wolves. These hardly perceptible images seem rather to be apparitions.

In the small theater, Victor Man experiments a narrative form borrowed from art history and “revisits” the myth of Oedipus and the Sphinx. Ingres in the early 19th century and later Bacon in the 80s both restored this myth; Victor Man gathers the references that make up the masterpieces of these two artists and produces a work with tragic overtones that attain extraordinary intensity, almost like a vision of the Apocalypse.

If at the center of Bacon’s painting appeared an unstable figure, Victor Man materializes his through an object that belongs to daily life: a ham hanging from a ceiling from which two bulbs shine some light. The chaotic, floating nature of the work to which it refers is abandoned to give way to a condition of particularly hard forms in which violence is not only visual but also powerfully symbolic.

Victor Man’s skill consists in creating, from an atmosphere that allows for questioning by means of different modalities, the sentiment of sacrality that can be produced thanks to the use of light and stage direction. By associating notions of desire and fragmentation – geographical and ideological – the artist creates new narrations where human sensuality is evoked with all the idyllic and infernal scenarios that go with it. Divorced from its context and emptied of its primary substance, each work is reformulated with a new vocabulary to create what the artist describes as “a terrain of turbulence where truth becomes a question of signs.”

“I avoid giving a definitive status, I love the idea of penetrating things softly and keeping my distance. If things become too explicit, then I include another element to upset coherence.”

A book designed by the artist accompanies the exhibition Attebasile, co-edited by Ciap and Ikon Gallery.

Press contact Frédéric Legros
tel.: +33 (0)5 55 69 27 27
fax: +33 (0)5 55 69 29 31

Le Centre international d’art et du paysage is financed by the Ministry of Culture and Communications/Drac Limousin and the Regional Council of Limousin.

The exhibition and the book Attebasile are organized thanks to the partnership of Naturalia beauté bio, Pro natura and of the Syndicat mixte régional et interdépartemental de Vassivière en Limousin (SYMIVA), co-producted with l’Ikon Gallery.

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Centre international d'art et du paysage, Vassivière Island
February 9, 2009

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