Go or Stay?
It is a known fact that any attempt by an artist to repeat a previous success is massively hazardous as far as new, autonomous success goes: it can plunge him deep into mannerism, drowning-deep.
In his latest series Go or Stay?, Francisc Chiuariu takes on precisely this exact risk, with flying colors, too – inspired and overwhelmed by a recent and quite dramatic personal situation.
The sole character of the series is a female silhouette, featuring obsessively in each work, against a backdrop of a deserted and disquieting urban landscape, reminiscent of a primeval, cataclysmic time.
This has become a matrix in Chiuariu’s artistic practice as early as the years 2008 - 2012, in his Networks and The Theory of the Circle series; it is now called to action again, in an unconventional poetical narrative. This human silhouette, which loses its body contour and identity only to regain it over again and the same all over again and again, appears to us like some sort of guiding Virgil, accompanying us through the hell of the unknown, across our anxiety and existential terror. All this is documented by the painter in what appears to be a monosyllabic conversation with himself.
The first work in the series was painted on a piece of cardboard and was supposed to be a one-off thing – a mysterious little portrait of a fragile being with angel wings. It has nevertheless become the starting point of the series and has acquired an ornate frame, which is unusual for Francisc’s works, given the rather spartan style in which they present themselves to the world. He went on to paint, like in a trance, straight on canvas or in quick sketches, a rapid succession of works dealing with danger: we sense it from the quiet and contained tension of the paintings, which do not have a direct and terrifying representation of evil, as in Goya or Henry Fuseli. There is a tangible proof though of this embedded tension and uncertainty of the waiting for a verdict in the crisis: one of the large works contains in its depth four compositions layered on top of each other, scraped off and re-painted into an eerie stratification of thick painted versions of an extreme personal experience. Likewise, some of the works have been painted with the left hand, when, exhausted, the right one had to pause.
The chromatics of the series is quite transparent in providing an understanding of this journey’s moments: we kick off in dark grays and severe blues, cut across by barely seen networks, wannabe safety nets; the reds are disturbing and bloody all the way to a diluted trace; the dusty, flat whites of the sun-lit fragments of the ‘city’ do not really allow light.
One of the large canvases, painted in pitch-dark black, captures the moment when a rosy knot is about to exit the frame, resembling some improbable flying saucer. A confident ‘color scheme’ follows in its steps though, lifting the canvases in gently fading shades of pink and violet, bracing orange which feel as though lit by a non-fake sun. Four of the works on show are totally devoid of color, their black traces evoking startling x-rays of the core matter, seen from various angles.
Dealing as he does in matters which relate to the chance of survival and the ultimate truth, it is outstanding that Francisc Chiuariu was able to avoid the facile temptation of the melodramatic in his painting – feeding this series from the vital energy of his creative imagination accumulated in his work to date. Serving as a summarizing capsule, L’eternel retour triptic contains a reversible, flowing dynamics where spirit overcomes matter, where human and place are not annihilated – and allow the viewer to feel they can cope with the crucial question: will you go or stay?
Gabriela Massaci, January 2022