Horațiu Lipot
Thu, October 05, 2023 to Wed, November 01, 2023
In the artistic center of Cluj Napoca, with its medium specificity for the painting genre, artists usually paint, and more than often beautifully. Realistic, photo or hyper-realistic, and if we talk about abstract compositions, predominate the analytical type, in blocks of color that seek the perfect temperature. They paint on well-defined and prepared parietal supports, the predominant canvas as in traditional artistic centers, is mostly linen. There is also a well-formed system for the primary market, and thus the artworks, even among the young generation are often framed. An equally important part of the same well-defined system, of constant cultural export to the western context, in the last almost 20 years, is the fact that almost all of the artists, be it the institutional or market darling onse, hold doctoral degrees, and regardless of the medium they practice, are all given on the genre of painting. So, in Cluj Napoca, artists paint, and they paint generally beautifully, academically some how.
But not Nicolae Romanitan, whose works - often on precarious supports, found or recovered from abandoned sites - are defined primarily by a striking authenticity, by a nostalgia of tactility and of a well defined materiality, precisely as a response to their expected obsolescence in an increasingly accelerated towards the complete immaterial, Boolean and dry world, like a bad dream of the binary opposites. I preferred the use of beautiful instead of aesthetical, because it is not always authentic or a real one, as for the ancient Greeks, kallos also had the meaning of useful. We are speaking ironically of the kind of beauty that increasingly defines the state of todays wrap-type-of-world, typical to open capital markets, where the most visually present type of image is the one coming from advertising or personal identity ones, transformed by various commercial filters.
Many of Nicolae Romanitan's selected themes, materials, and even techniques — such as the pen-hatched drawings — are so specific to the generation categorically called millennials, or Y, in nature. Stop-frames from SEGA games, motherboards exposed like a digital excarnation, CDs and CD-ROM's that according to today'ss speculative statistics, current generations still don't even know exactly how they look, and computers with bulky, horizontal cases, unfolded on the floor with their circuits exposed as if the artist is ready to start an anatomy lesson — a digital one of course— are all artefacts and an iconographic arsenal comming from the proto-digital world of the 90's. The warm, domestic materialls that defined the structural shell upon which these proto-digital fantasies unfolded — cheap white tiles, linoleum, salvaged pieces of furniture or plaster, paintings of still lifes with plasticized fruits that decorated the dark hallways of the socialist blocks— are more than often used as a support for these techno-apocalyptic iterations.
Nicolae Romanitan's scenes appear to be a clever mix of painting and drawing in terms of style. The effective depiction of a post-apocalyptic technological singularity is fueled by a composite spatial-pictorial-emotional effect, that blurs the lines between what you feel, what you see, and what seems like a dream. Arranged in the picture plane with the dense materiality of things hastily stuffed into a backpack, the objects in his compositions collapse ubiquitously into the inner architectural and psychological space. The bodies of the characters represented alone-in-the-world, and having the allure of self-portraits masked in scenes from art history, are entangled with the technologcal devices operated not at all symbiotically in respects of the body. This is done through the hardware part of painful implants and not the software one, programmable and amnesiac, where we see moments of true agony, loneliness, defeat, but also tenderness and ecstasy, expressed in a self-taught, manically detailed style, approaching the caricatural part of realism, more specific to the American than European modernism; of course, a major influence of the aftermentioned generation.
These artworks clearly testify for the beauty of a world in or about to collapse, on an accelerated course of total disenchantment, as if a citizen in the year 2050, after taking off his VR headset, notices that in the few years of continu in plos virtual reality in utopian places, the real, material things around him began to ruine, to degrade. A state of grace of the late Anthropocene, at an objective limit of chaos in physical systems, about which another Cluj exponent, the poet Ovio Olaru writes in his volume „Pilotul (The pilot)”
[...] ”We are capable many things, proof is we are slowing down
the planet's rotation
with our buildings
and we posses bones as strong as granite
which we break without risk
in car accidents
we are not perishable, because we have passed the animal stage
and we repair ourselves artificially ” [...]