GORZO. Departures/Arrivals

This summer we assisted an automatic fire exhibition intervention, signed by Gorzo. A duo, along with Gheorghe Rasovszky, at Aiurart, a concentrated solo at H’Art/Appendix and another apparition at the Uj Kriterion Gallery in Miercurea Ciuc. Three Gorzo exhibitions. Is he back for good? Is he staying or is he goind? Why is he exhibiting so much? Is it still painting?… still women with penises? And the big questions of the Romanian contemporary art scene could go on forever without reaching the topic of painting. Meanwhile, Gorzo arrived in New York again.

Talking about Gorzo in 2016, in Bucharest, demands an effort to realise some new realities, compared to the 2000s and to the last 8 years during which the artist was gone/returned/gone. The new young authoritative audience is big and sensitive to spectacular art, it’s more social and sociable and more visible than painting. We are talking about an audience that has imported a globalized kind of sensitivity, a sort of soft, pink Neo-Marxist Pop-Cult ideology, a sort of domesticated anarchism with post-humanist, corporate mindsets that, facing a woman with a dick, talk about discrimination or about an android, trans-humanist Adam. Gorzo is the one who brought a harsh and sensitive reality into contemporary painting (since the word “contemporary” wasn’t occupied by the creative industry yet), a reality subjected to skepticism, brutalized with mockery for the love of overturning and in order to be turned into image. 

Today, in the society of continuously publicized shock, this piece of information may appear null, especially for the art field, where a contact with the present is expected. But in the Neo-Socialist 1995-2000s, publicly criticizing, exposing yourself as a painter with social and democratic political topics were ideas on the verge of taboo. All this immoral and impulsive rhetoric is (was) frustrating for the biennales, the salons and the politically correct juries. We are talking about a sort of art impossible to place inside the official “art world” trends or the art marketing domain. This sort of art is not easy to contextualize through curatorial discourse. We are not talking about demand-created or collector demanded art, but about an individual visual identity, almost from the very beginning. Hence, for the youngest and the newest, post-2010, Gorzo may look like a cool painter with technologically archaically pre-internet origins, the prophet of sex in contemporary painting, an anachronistic but awesome painter, through the very fact that he lives abroad (Brooklyn, New York). For the oldest, Gorzo is the same, except, during the last 8 years, he has been running too much and he exhibited home too little. Objectively speaking, placing Gorzo needs a longer production time and the lenses of the classical art history - it’s impossible to talk about expressionist painting and about the artist only with the help of opinions and today’s curatorial and market practices.

Another fact to be aware of is the establishment of a sort of image created by the project and the effects of the Cluj painters. How does Gorzo’s painting look like - a brutal, chromatic and erotomanic expressionism of spots, gestures and drippings - compared to the figurative academicism, socially emotional painting, confirmed in recent memory by the media, the art fares and the art auction houses? Of course, the comparison of the two types of images is absurd. One direction comes from reproduction and mimesis mentality, with a broad tekne/technical vocabulary, whereas the other comes from action, expression, non-figurative subjects, and with an existential, psychoanalytical vocabulary. Gorzo’s painting has completely different intentions; it can’t be contextualized with curatorial discourse or with premeditated, planned projects. The curator is an evaluator, not a judge. And, regarding painting, especially in the case of a solo show or an exhibition on a new work, the curator is completely overwhelmed by the historical and theoretical dimension (even if we live in a post-historical and post-theoretical ideal world).

In this case, we are not talking about a fabricated artist that follows the steps of a strategy master and the motivational slogans of a PR manager. We’re talking about another type of consistency, about a choice and a journey through the world that leaves behind images of/about affirmation, questions, purification processes and climaxes that mattered. One’s life and the machinery of life - the senses, the body, the limbs, the imagination are the exploration instruments, the toys in this game. The body is engaged in extreme moments of nervous and mental excitation, as a result of which numerous visual happenings (in the shape of painting, sculpture, graphics, object, performance) are formed and shaped. His motivation is negative, anti-aesthetic, and the production/creative process is reduced, gestural and formally efficient. The concept supports and determines the whole picture and the concept is the artist’s identity itself. Gorzo is closer to the Fluxus type of behavior, with the purist fret, rather than to a certain art school, famous for a certain technique or visual problem solving, such as the Cluj - Leipzig relationship. We are in a radical relationship with our body as a “living brush” (according to the Gorzo & Alina Buga v.s. Maciunas & Klein performance description). We are not using the vocabulary of the art object, evaluated and branded with “contemporary” by institutions. The free expression and the subjective creation, generated by one’s own existence, are the elements of a destiny where there is no big fish to catch, no destiny or success to achieve.

Gorzo, after these 8 years of travelling, could be seen between two opposite sides, between an exaggeratedly tall New York and a much too flat Bucharest - between an analytical cultural code, fundamentally capitalist (where the market decides what life is and what art is), and a continental, South-Eastern code, platonic, orthodox, post-socialist, where art, especially painting, isn’t completely institutionalized yet. Gorzo doesn’t have a clear, fixed place, nor there or here. The continuous run between the two continents and between more realities places him or moves him around a globally exhibition playground. The dialogue started being carried with a billion-eyed watcher that speaks other languages and blinks at other cusses. Religion, sexuality and tragedy are sofa topics. God is a word that’s written on billboards more often than the name of a chocolate, Ceausescu is a funny character amongst other dictatorial figures in the world, and sexuality is a liberated and appeased topic since grandma Joplin. Therefore, how does this repositioning of Gorzo’s conceptual content look, after it doesn’t mean irony, reaction or critic anymore? The subject has lost its code, its sense, its iconography, and the aim moved on to mode, limits (or lack of limits), on to the act in itself, the performance, the camouflage solutions, in the end.

The “Under the Lee of the Invasive Plants” exhibition from H’art/Appendix has eight new pieces, painted in auto-oils. The series brings up a dialogue revolving around some well-known motifs, but also around some new elements of Gorzo’s painting. We find ourselves in the anatomy of the sexual intercourse, of course, but we are moved towards variations of spots and rhythms that break through the initial figurative field. An opening towards a more chromatically violent abstraction is visible. It’s brought from New York, where colour is subject and the spots and the drippings are figures. Gorzo is one of the Romanian force expressionists, with cultural routes in the early expressionism and also the post-modern phenomenon, from the 1980-90s, including vizual universes like J.M. Basquiat, A. Kiefer, G. Baselitz. Meanwhile we are discovering directions in which the action and the stroke take full control. Creation seems an act of destruction, of non-figuration, non-representation and non-reproduction.

The Aiurart exhibition brings another form of speech. “Stream no.2” is the title of the reunion between two good old friends, Gheorghe Rasovszky and Gorzo. The curatorial discourse has been replaced by the communication between the two, led by Rasovszky, signed together. We therefore assist at a dialogical game that finally turns into a very serious questioning of the creation of image, should it be painting or photography. Physically, the works communicate with each other. At a first look, you don’t know who is who. It looks like everything starts from photography, so it could be Rasovszky, but then everything is covered in colours and heavy oils, so it could be Gorzo. Throughout the whole exhibition we assist an exchange of visual experiments between photography and painting. Gorzo drowns the photography; he hides it into his painting. Rasovszky accentuates the photography with little painting interventions. But “Stream no.2” can be read like an allegory to a radical form of cleansing and clearing of the game and of the creative communication between the two artists. The rejoice of meeting again, the enjoyment of exhibiting together, the will to tell something together are components that streamlines the dialogue between the images and also the dialogue with the viewer, obvious in the coherence of the expositional phrasing.

At Uj Kriterion, Gorzo presents the production made after the summer visit to Mircea Suciu’s studio. Unlike “Stream no.2”, this series shows another level of intervention on photography - the two fields communicate more harmoniously. The photography keeps its consistency and the painting contextualizes it instead of hiding it. Sometimes, instead of photography, figurative painting becomes the support of the gestural intervention. We find elementary figuration again, from a single neurotic stroke, but also moments when painting becomes the dominant environment. The dominant and symptomatic motif in the three series could be the intervention, the overlapping (plastic collage, painting over photography or painting over painting). Memory is the figurative and narrative illusion and actuality is abstraction and the continuous energy. Where would Gorzo’s mockery be in these three shows? We could be talking about a different level of conception. The criticizing and the mockery, more subtle though, are pointed towards memory and the ending of painting, towards the topic of industrial image production. And this crisis dialogue, between an environment of reproduction and an environment of expression, is enlarged in a context where communication and the interaction code between individuals gives up the humanist rhetoric of the word, favoring a shortened and efficient scientific rhetoric of image. 

We could say that we’re assisting a type of creation where the artist embodies with the places, the ideas, the subjects, and with the image itself, in the end.  He goes with the flow and is carried, poisoned and bitten by the political, social and sexual bestiary, along with any other psycho-monster that haunts his soul. What’s left at the end of these exorcising and purification processes, the traces of these brutal and subjective recoveries could be art. For Gorzo there isn’t a single piece of work. His paintings are fragments of a much wider image, made by many hands and from many directions at the same time. Before one of his works, the viewer experiences a freeze frame from a continuous process of generation, expression, emission, without telling a beginning or an end. Marking an image with a certain prejudice is quitting. Gorzo’s painting is a mirror, it’s unfriendly, extremely conscious and sharp-edged, it has sincere and tough opinions, it’s unsociable. All in all, it reflects all the thoughts conserved in the mind, all the disguised emotions, the animal instincts and the wounds of the humanist domestication in us.

translated by: Marta Boceanu