Old Age: Suffering Takes Over

As part of the White Night of the Galleries (September 30), the alternative gallery space at Dr. Iacob Felix no. 72A hosted an installation called Road, about the road of life.

The piece that intrigued me the most, despite its simple concept, showed a family photo and a number of medicine package inserts, blisters of pills, and prescriptions pinned to an old light brown overcoat. The garment hung from the ceiling and a side wall, and underneath it was a pile of medicine packets, pill bottles, and blister packs. The label read Bătrânețea (Old Age), by Rene Răileanu.

Rene Raileanu, Batranetea / Old Age, part of an installation titled Road
Underneath the coat, medicine package inserts and related paraphernalia
Rene Raileanu, Batranetea / Old Age (detail), part of an installation titled Road
The stuff that pushes us up when we fall/fail
Rene Raileanu, Batranetea (meaning "Old Age"), part of an installation titled Road
Flying high

The piece, with the medicine signifiers replacing the body of the person, made me think how in our old age we’re shaped by suffering and how the fact that we’re still standing under that coat is due to the many medicines we take, medicines which help numb that suffering but which, in many ways, take over our identity as we become more and more concerned with our health, talk often about our ailments, and are perceived through the lens of our illnesses by others. And then there’s the family portrait at the top—what most of us hold most dear in our waning years.

Rene Răileanu is mostly a figurative painter. If you want to see some more of his work, here’s his website.