[artinfo] MNAC Bucharest presents MUZEUL DE PICTURA

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Thu Mar 17 10:01:08 CET 2005

National Museum of Contemporary Art Bucharest
Palatul Parlamentului, aripa E4
Entrance Calea 13 Septembrie
wednesday - sunday 10.00 - 18.00
Tel: 004021 4111040
info at mnac.ro

'The Painting Museum' is a project that engages critically a sizeable 
portion of the museum's collection - its 'dark side'. It will look at 
the representations of communist power, the official portraits of 
dictator Nicolae Ceausescu, the deviances of Socialist Realism and 
the chances of a public debate on the subject fifteen years after the 
Romanian revolution.

The curatorial strategy negotiates between showing and hiding the 
images, describing in a sense their post-revolutionary history: 
seldom openly discussed, yet always there, in the back of our minds, 
in the psychic backyard of unexamined recent history. Alongside 
conventional modes of presentation, the exhibition makes use of 
alternative spaces inside the museum, residual spaces left behind 
after the conversion of a wing in Palace of the Parliament (formerly 
known as the House of the People, the second largest building in the 
world and in itself the most obscenely triumphant symbol of communist 
power) into a gallery for contemporary art. In a sense, this strategy 
seeks to decontaminate the new space of the museum, as the curator 
describes the corridors between original wall and museum wall as 
encapsulating fifteen years of post-revolutionary history.

The works in question articulate a virtually complete history of 
modern art, as the authors resorted to various styles and stylistic 
devices to embellish - and seemingly diversify - an encomium which is 
fundamentally the same, the endless repetition of the same statement 
about authority and submission. From the 'Rousseau Ceausescu' to the 
'Jasper Johns Ceausescu', the artists deploy indiscriminate 
metaphors, crooked readings of Romanian history and puzzling details, 
creating an official iconography with many involuntary lapses and a 
great dosage of tragic humor. Ranging from the picturesque to the 
sheer grotesque, this polymorphous portrait of Nicolae Ceausescu 
introduces viewers to a biologic enigma. The subject seems unaffected 
by age, he actually grows younger, a process which culminates with a 
1989 portrait of blossoming strength and youthful confidence. He is 
seen working on the country's many construction sites, visiting 
factories or villages, in 'permanent dialogue with the people'. He is 
the prototype of the 'the new man', which communist propaganda 
imposed as the fundamental aim of Romanian society.

'The Painting Museum' aims to launch a debate about essential 
questions of Romanian recent history, the communist and 
post-communist syndrome, investigating the contemporary reception and 
significance of these images and their role in the history of 
Romanian art. The exhibition is the first step in a long-term, 
cross-disciplinary research about the works and the period they 

Sound installation: Aurel Cornea

Texts: Matei Bejenaru, Cosmin Costinas, Catalin Gheorghe, Mihnea 
Mircan, Andrei Siclodi, Stefan Tiron, Raluca Velisar. The texts will 
be available starting from 16 march on 

Curator: Florin Tudor

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