Dan Perjovschi, a Postmodern Ex-communist

26th January 2006

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Thursday 26 January 2006 18.30 – 20.30 at The Romanian Cultural Centre 8th floor, 54-62 Regent Street, London W1B 5RE Click here to see images from this event. Dan Perjovschi uses drawing as an instrument to deal with socially relevant issues. Among many tools, he utilizes books and posters to convey images. He has created a type of applied drawing, which also represents a critical commentary on portraying drawing as a decorative and expressive form of art. For Perjovschi, drawing is a medium of circulation within society. He does not limit it to the idea of creating an irreplaceable, unique and original work of art. He follows the tradition of comics and cartoons, linking precise observation of everyday life with ironic commentary. The drawing and text each serve to comment simultaneously in both a critical and playful manner. Contrary to the conventional attitude towards drawing which consider it to encompass a sketch and then a draft, Perjovschi’s drawings have their own intrinsic value, which means they cannot simply be replaced or improved by something else. The approach distances itself from traditional and stereotyped concepts of drawing, thus opening up new perspectives, opportunities and legitimacy. Rainer Fuchs, MUMOK Wien, from the jury motivation for the Henkel Drawing Prize 2002 Dan Perjovschi has revolutionized drawing, making it both an object and a medium of performance and installation. He also makes his living drawing political commentaries for 22, a newspaper begun by former Romanian dissident who also founded the Group of Social Dialogue. Perjovschi’s figurative line drawings function as “public art”, providing visual witness to how heterogeneous population collectively grapples with a shared homogenous past in the reconstruction of the present-future. Perjovschi has actively engaged visual social commentaries for the purpose of producing political change, creating a public dialogue where the act of making anything public at still remains in question. Deeply skeptical, Perjovschi is, nevertheless, committed to the healing of his nation’s profound wounds by illustrating its acutely ironical condition. His drawings address such issues as the relations between official culture and officially-produced “alternative culture”; how fifty years of social conditioning has taught the Romanian population a form of learned disability; and the difficulties which are implicit in self-reconstruction and the critique of history. For example, he draws a smiling man holding a grinning hand puppet that, in turn, manipulates him by strings. Even more socially critical is a drawing of a man with small holes in his head standing under, and staring expectantly up at, a bathroom shower nozzle from which no water pours. While Perjovschi sketches out the historical insecurities of a nation that has lived as a myth, his representations operate as biting, circumspect, and discriminating satires and parodies of those myths, never offering to replace them with any utopian project, but showing them in the harsh light of humor and empathy. Perjovschi’s drawings sketch for the public vision in the post-1989 emotional climate of Romanian society as it endures and creates change, and translate that experience into public images for public information, reflection, memory, and knowledge. Dr. Kristine Stiles (“300 words on Dan Perjovschi” from After the Wall – Art and Culture in post-Communist Europe, Moderna Museet Stockholm, 1999) Dan Perjovschi’s artistic program centers on recording history as a flux of events and on a permanent self-contextualization. His report steadily archives the relation he establishes with the contiguous social, political and cultural corpus. At the same time, Perjovschi’s “social cartoon”-consequence of his lucid involvement in daily reality-documents the artist’s reactions to the demands of the context. (…) Excerpts of a process of transforming thoughts in decisions, actions, rapid gestures, Perjovschi’s notations function either as interventions within the public space or as instruments of exorcising rituals and as signs interowoven into architectural textures. The serial act of daily sketching may also be defined as a life-time performance. The artist is himself part of the process and the work lasts no longer than its framework. Not by accident the mediums he employs are fragile and to certain extent, ephemeral. Even when covering the floors and walls of a building, such drawings are meant to be erased. It is the flux and progress of the cartoon which is important, and in order to be continued this must be ephemeral. Archiving is parallel to anthologizing and recycling. The “re-drawing” (i.e. the copying) of his own output is equivalent to extracting events out of reporting flux and provisionally compressing them into stand-stills. The relation original-copy is constantly relativized and reformulated within data recycling. Operations like archiving and recycling record the attempts of surmounting the contradiction arisen from perceiving the “massified”, meaningless history and the necessity to motivate the individual’s participation to it. On a long term the series of sketches may also be perceived as an attempt to take possession of the existential space, as reassertion of the individual presence rendered in daily exercises of drawing. This effort gives no illusion and deliberately addresses its own consuming. The spectator as (art) consumer and the acknowledgement of this role are part of the inherent logic of Perjovschi’s art. By addressing complex social messages trough plain and mordant images, his published drawings stimulate reflection on the way historical discourse is being made. In the case of pavement or mural drawings, the viewer’s participation in the disappearance of the work-which subsequently reintegrated within the recycling process-, thematizes individual responsibility regarding the social construction of meaning. (...) Judit Angel (fragments from “Report II”, rESt, 48 Venice Biennial, Romanian Pavilion, 1999)