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.


Vlad Basarab, Earth People, at Amzei Market Makers

Walking about Amzei Square yesterday evening, I stopped at Amzei Market Makers to see their current exhibition (curated by Beti Vervega and Mădălina Mirea). One of the artists included in the show was Vlad Basarab (b. 1977, Bucharest), a graduate of the Ceramics section of the University of Alaska Anchorage, as well as of two MFA programs in the US, currently a PhD student in visual arts at the National University of the Arts in Bucharest.

Vlad Basarab is mostly known for the clay books in his Archaeology of Memory series. You can see a photo on ArtOut, accompanying Mădălina Panduru’s interview with the artist, and a video on YouTube, showing in 4 minutes and 31 seconds the way one of these books dissolves under the week-long attritive action of water. In the interview, Vlad Basarab explains that he has left the pages blank in order to allude to oblivion and absence, and to stimulate the viewer to imagine what might have been in those books. Along the same lines, the disintegration of the book suggests the loss of collective memory. For more info in English on Vlad Basarab, see this page from the online art portal Modernism.

I didn’t get to see his books yesterday, but the works he did contribute to the show were rather strong, too. They were called Oameni Pământ nr. 1 (Earth People No. 1) and Oameni Pământ nr. 2 (Earth People No. 2), and they played with his favorite media, the elementary materials of earth, water, and fire. I thought they were quite inspired. Here they are.

Vlad Basarab, Earth People No. 1, mixed media
Vlad Basarab, Earth People No. 1
Vlad Basarab, Earth People No. 2, mixed media
Vlad Basarab, Earth People No. 2

The Virgin Mary Covered in Wax Drips

Michele Bressan, Madonna, sculpture covered in wax drips
Michele Bressan, Madonna

I found this sculpture in the Old Town last night, as part of Bucharest’s tenth edition of the White Night of the Art Galleries, which included a ten-year retrospective at ARCUB. Titled simply Madonna, it’s a work from 2014 by Michele Bressan (b. 1980, Trieste, Italy), who has been residing in Bucharest since 1993.

I’m showing it because this Virgin Mary covered in wax drips made me think of her as carrying our prayers as a light burden . . .

Here are some more shots of her from today.

Michele Bressan, Madonna, detail showing her head
Michele Bressan, Madonna (detail)
Michele Bressan, Madonna, detail showing her back
Michele Bressan, Madonna (detail)
Michele Bressan, Madonna, detail showing the pedestal covered in wax candles
Michele Bressan, Madonna (detail)