Being an artist involves a remarkable amount of individualism. Art, when practiced consistently, becomes akin to a durable, demanding, and sometimes possessive life partner. An individual's relationship with the creative power that resides within his own being is in itself a "lifetime commitment". Perhaps that is why the cliché of the lonely artist, isolated from society, downright alone and even antisocial, has such a strong hold on the collective perception.
As such, the biographies of artists who have linked their destinies to the presence of other artists in close proximity, especially in the intimate sense, are all the more interesting, as they give birth to new types of complex dynamics. This is particularly evident when both partners express themselves through similar languages. A couple consisting of a musician and an actor differs greatly from one consisting of two painters. The presence of another self, with its own mechanism of representation in the immediate vicinity of the palette and the turpentine jar creates a context of constant negotiation. Who influences whom, how do they choose their subjects, what piques their interest and what divides them? Many times, the two reach an obvious mutual influence (the case of Georgeta Năpăruș & Octav Grigorescu), or even a symbiotic collaboration (Christo and Jean Claude, Abramovic and Ulay). Some couples stand the test of time, while others fall apart due to internal power struggles.
Teodora Gavrilă and Claudiu Lazăr met in Bucharest. Both practitioners of canvas painting, sometime after their respective university experiences, the two became a couple a little over a year ago. Teodora is an explorer of colorful graphics, fond of her workshop, and constantly present in exhibitions and auctions. She has a recurrent motif, the bird, signifying freedom, which shines through in compositions that oscillate between a back-and-forth game of figurative and abstract. In recent years she has experimented with volume through the object, extracting character traits from her canvases with strong references to Niki de Saint Phalle's Nanele.
On the other hand, Claudiu Lazăr is the workshop's "enfant terrible", develops a diverse practice, having an experimental journey in relation to materiality, whether it is oil on canvas or installation work. The practice of scraping and obsessively retouching the composition, successive layering and cleansing down to the figurative cotton fiber bone of the canvas, denotes an assiduous and exhausting search. It is no wonder that his process takes the form of a conflictual relationship with his own environment.
Yet Colliding/Coliziune represents a moment of meeting and investigation of the two on the workshop grounds which migrate between three physical spaces, including their own home. And the themes are exactly about this process: the starting piece from both of them is the same frame - the two lying next to each other on the couch, without touching - a shared memory of a moment in a studio apartment facing the sweltering life of flat-living in Bucharest. A domestic yet very relevant moment, that of shared living, wherein the negotiation of the two as artistic personalities occupying the same frame begins. As I was saying at the beginning of this text, the need to work is like a partner in itself which puts pressure on the individual, the couple dynamic between artists echoing a relationship between several entities, each with its own agenda. To add a bit of adrenaline to all this, Akka, the four-legged canine Malinois, also enters the mix - another intransigent, demanding, and possessive personality, which Teodora pencils with a single gestural line in her sketches, while Claudiu scrapes away at her form multiple times until he reaches the synthetic soul that he keeps searching for. Then we see the self-portraits, two perfectly natural subjects in this exhibition and context. Teodora's is the personification of the bird symbol, surrounded by other birds (perhaps instances of her ambitions, projected in multiple exploratory paths), and Claudiu's is an overlap of dimensions, over which a translucent figure hovers hieratically - possibly a desire of evolutionary metamorphosis?
The third act is that of the Trinity, in Claudiu's vision as a post-interpretation of Manet's Breakfast on the Grass (an interesting choice, taking into account the scandal that the work caused when it was shown to the French society in the 19th century), in which the nude takes the canine form of Akka, and the two men who admire her are Claudiu and Teodora. In Teodora's vision, however, this trinity takes place in an almost abstract dimension, a migration to San Junipero* – a program uploaded in virtual reality with an illustrative and romantic character. The Colliding exhibition is lined with several smaller works, representations of random or meaningful characters from the same personal area – the circle of friends and acquaintances, the community which narratively enriches the daily lives of the two artists when they are not spending days and nights together in the workshop.
Colliding signifies both the effort to co-exist as artists and the mutual healing mechanism activated when you are understood, accepted, and supported in the process called "making art".
- Ilina Schileru, curator