Tutti Frutti: A Body of Paintings Informed by a Study of Symbols and Appropriation Techniques in Contemporary Romanian Painting
MetadataShow full item record
The body of paintings presented in this PhD serve as an embodied mode of research developed through experimental practices, and through theoretical research. The research is focused on painting due to the medium’s familiarity as well as its status as the dominant discipline of the post 2000 generation of Romanian artists. The theoretical research scrutinises this crucial phase in Romanian cultural history, in which the post-communist landscape intersects and overlaps with postmodernist theory. The research pays particular attention to figurative symbols, their collective and personal implications, and meanings, and how such symbols have been appropriated and re-employed by Romanian artists since the 1990s. The focus on symbols informs the development of an experimental painting practice capable of testing the validity of a method based on appropriation. The project initially analyses Romanian artists active in 1980, with a focus on charting the prevailing symbolic landscape and discourses. This helps assess how effectively that cultural situation from the 1980s created a robust launch platform for the adoption of Western conceptual frameworks following the fall of the Berlin wall. This is initially done by observing the inherent symbolism employed by the Romanian authoritative regime pre-1989 and how artists of the period devised strategies of creating hidden meanings, and sometimes even hidden practices. The regime employed a series of strategies, from using idealised images of the ‘new man’, done in concordance with the general communist project, to reinterpreting and romanticising old Romanian myths and symbols. This assessment is then informed by a series of loosely structured interviews with prominent Romanian historians and curators. This practice-led research focuses on five Romanian male artists from the post 2000 generation. My interest in these artists is primarily motivated by their use of figurative symbols. Here, figurative symbols are used to differentiate between signs that have their interpretative meaning inherent to them and compositions with inherent meanings such as installation art, or even photography – both mediums present in the period after 2000. The selection is also based on a set of interviews with prominent Romanian art historians and curators. In the diverse and complex Romanian art scene their work forms a distinct trend, a major inspiration for my practice. The research then expands on the initial understanding of Romanian postcommunist art by following the emergence of internationally renowned Romanian artists post 2000, a fulcrum date in Romanian economic and cultural development. This contextual review is concurrently tested and modified in a studio situation, using a methodology that involves speculation, appropriation and reinterpretation, each method designed to mimic certain experimental practices of the postcommunism generation of Romanian artists, to reflect and expand upon their inquiry. The inquiry through painting on the post 2000s Romanian art scene, paired with an extensive historical literature review and targeted interviews, constitutes the contribution to new knowledge of the project.