"How to explain pictures..." / An homage exhibition to Joseph Beuys

July 12, 2022 | Cosmina Marcela OLTEAN ArtPage

The Art Museum in Cluj-Napoca recently opened for the public a new exhibition called How to explain pictures..., in the Festive Halls of Bánffy Palace, curated by the well-known visual artist, Roxana Trestioreanu, The exhibition is "an impressive art project that aims to be a symbolic homage to Joseph Beuys, iconic personality of the German artistic avant-garde postwar, whose centenary since birth was celebrated last year through a multitude of cultural events" (Alexandra Sârbu).
“Few twentieth-century German cultural figures were as controversial as the intervention artist, sculptor, draftsman, art theorist, and occasional professor Joseph Beuys (1921-1986). His works developed a new, broader concept of art, which also included the idea of political co-creation of society”, we find it specified in the exhibition’s guide.

Photos by Andra Salaoru

"Arriving in Munich in February 1990, I had the chance to catch a Beuys retrospective. I was excited and I remember what impressed me then: were the drawings and sculptures. The simple, direct expression, the essential shapes, the limited coloring - seemingly modest, all of it moved me. (…) It was too early for me to understand Beuys's concept of "social sculpture" or ecology, I didn't know much. It was a completely different way of thinking about art, of relating to society as an artist, the total involvement of Beuys fascinated me. This meeting triggered a project of mine to see German and European museums. (…) Wondering what I inherited from this fabulous artist, I can only mention now: consistency, openness to dialogue, inventiveness - too little of what can be said anyway ... Working on paper has almost never been appreciated at its fair value, being considered a minor field and which can be ignored, a preparatory work for the "great arts": painting and sculpture. It's just that when we talk about creation and creativity, we must - obligatorily - look for the drawings, the sketchbooks of an artist. There you will always find the clearest, most direct and purest expressions of plastic ideas. For me, drawing on paper is the most sincere, the most direct expression of "plastic thought", said the artist Olimpiu Bandalac.

In the topic related to trees, first of all it is about a social theme, which is related to ecology and the destruction of the forest heritage, and the other aspect is related to morality, to the individual conscience of each one. There are serious, important things in our lives expressed with the simplest geometry: circle, square, cone, cylinder… The plastic expression was, in fact, embodied in the desire to move away from the things I had done before. I considered that the most important thing is the message, a message that belongs to us, to those who live now. In this sense, the ecological theme of abusive deforestation is a present, alarming and very current topic, and the ethical theme of verticality is related to timeless moral continuity. My main concern is to give life to the fallen tree, to leave a mark, a disapproval of destruction using the language of the sculptural object. (…) Complex personality, Beuys gradually revealed itself to me in time, as I found certain clues and signals arrived in various ways. I had learned of his incredible experience as a German fighter during the war, which definitely marked his life afterwards, as a contemporary art author, pedagogue, or social activist. ” (Darie Dup)


When I think of Joseph Beuys, I think of the concept of Naturallianz, an association with nature, I think of natural materials, creative energies, empathy or intuitive behavior transposed into a certain form, ephemeral, physical… ” (Gyöngy Kerekes)

Beuys teaches us the freedom to create connected and involved in the realities of the world in which we live. Do we care about what is and is happening around us? Do we want to reach the truth and an ethic of life? The choice is ours. " (Marilena Preda Sânc)

Roxana Trestioreanu, curator of the project, spoke about the concept and purpose of the project, as well as about each of the artists involved in the project.

Joseph Beuys (1921-1986), marked the contemporary art with his creation and established himself as a landmark of the 20th century. He left an important legacy to the generations of artists who followed him, on the one hand through his work - drawings, installations, multiples, performative actions and their relics-witnesses, lectures, films - and on the other hand through the concept of social sculpture he launched, which defines human activity to structure and shape society and the environment as a work of art. Assuming through his approach the role of social sculptor, Beuys shapes society by activating the creative potential of each one, using language, concepts, performative actions and objects that accumulate along the way. (…) The participating artists, Olimpiu Bandalac, Darie Dup, Teodor Graur, Radu Igazság, Gyöngy Kerekes, Iosif Király, 2 META (Maria Manolescu and Romelo Pervolovici), Marilena Preda Sânc, Zoltán Szilágyi Varga, László Ujvárossy - are personalities who have repositioned the approach of the next generations towards contemporary creation through their work and social, formative / pedagogical involvement. The exhibition presents photographs, mail art objects, installations, drawings, experimental films, animation, filmed testimonials, documents related to the educational experience while hanging along with films presenting actions or interviews of Beuys”, pointed out the curator.

The exhibition will remain open to the public until July 17, 2022.
A project by the German Cultural Center Cluj-Napoca, in collaboration with the Goethe Institute Bucharest and the Art Museum Cluj-Napoca.




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