About three years ago I travelled to Cluj in Romania spurred on by inspiring reports of my friend Adrian Sutton from BlainSouthern gallery about Cluj being one of the most thriving art scenes in Eastern Europe with a deeply rooted tradition in painting. In the following years I returned frequently and happily for exhibitions, road trips and many studio visits. Amongst many fascinating and skilled artists, Dan’s paintings were unique with a highly individual style and peculiar approach to the country’s history. Looking at his work I sense the remains of a ruined communist past get dissolved and ultimately invigorated by fresh, daring colours and the energy of broad and confident gestural brush strokes.
Dan Maciuca is a new addition to the gallery program and stands out both for the medium he uses as well as the aesthetic of his works. He represents a generation of artists trained after the 1989 Romanian Revolution at the so-called Cluj School of Art in Transylvania along with Adrian Ghenie, Victor Man, Mircea Siucu and Ciprian Muresan. All artists originate from a studio community in a former paintbrush factory in Cluj that is nowadays considered one of the main emerging contemporary art hotspots in Europe.
Maciuca’s compositions are somewhat abstract-expressionist, partly applied in thick impasto, often set against a backdrop of geometric, figurative elements, building blocks or landscapes. Even if the young painter also refers to unsettling, dark colours and moods, which are a shared trademark of the Cluj School of artists, he slowly and confidently forged his own route towards a gestural and more fluid painting style.
Going through the process of deconstructing the figurative representation, Maciuca examines the uncertainty through utopian urban landscapes. Sceneries with brutalist architecture are stirred up and set into motion by sweeping brushstroke movements or interspersed with swirls and outbursts of colour. Maciuca’s urban landscapes possess the haunting beauty of post-apocalyptic settings, like film stills frozen in time, drenched with energy for potential renewal.
The opposition of the organic or geometric nature in Maciuca’s paintings is brought to an almost poetic balance in his complex compositions; it is what gives Maciuca’s oeuvre a strong sense of dynamism. Maciuca redefines the concept of spatiality by turning a two-dimensional composition into a three-dimensional motion that subtly challenges the Cartesian paradigm. His work has been particularly linked to Frank Auerbach for the expressiveness and looseness of the oil application and for the depiction of their hometown environment. Thoughtful and emotional, heavy, busy and dense, both paint their personal world, their own piece of utopian reality.
Maciuca’s work has been included in the Art Encounters Biennial #1, Timisoara, Romania in 2015.
Exhibitions at the gallery:
Dan Maciuca, Utopian Proximity, 2016 (solo show)