A Hard Rain is Gonna Fall
November 16 - February 8, 2024
Artist: Marcel Rusu

Marcel Rusu (b. 1989, Mediaș, Romania) is a visual artist living and working in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. He completed his B.F.A., M.F.A. and D.F.A. studies at the University of Art and Design, Cluj-Napoca. His work has been e ... [read more]

A Metaphoric Journey Through Present, acrylic and oil on linen, 165x145 cm, 2022
Authority of Shining, acrylic on linen, 50.5x42 cm, 2023
Silk and concrete, charcoal and pastel on paper, drawing size 150×110 cm / full size 200x150 cm, 2023
Soften Yellow and Melted Sun, acrylic and oil on linen, 50x42 cm, 2023
Spare time and Appetite 2, charcoal and pastel on paper, drawing size 130×98 cm / full size 150x118 cm, 2023
Spare Time and Appetite, charcoal and pastel on paper, drawing size 130×98 cm / full size 150x118 cm, 2023
The Guardians at Dusk, acrylic on linen, 100x90 cm, 2023
Unpredictable Horizon, acrylic and oil on linen, 165×145 cm, 2022
Untitled (Afternoon at Barbican), charcoal and pastel on paper, drawing size 150×110 cm / full size 200x150 cm, 2023
Urban Jungle 2022. Thunders in the East, acrylic and oil on linen, 100×150 cm, 2022
Western View, acrylic on linen, 50×45 cm, 2022
A Hard Rain is Gonna Fall

In most of the works created by Marcel Rusu after 2022 in medium-to-large-sized formats, two surfaces converge: one is architectural, serving as a carrier of pictorial plasticity and conceptual suggestion, while the other is affective, featuring either his life partner or the artist himself. These surfaces merge together into a fundamental typology of representation, which is linked to the core issue of illusion on a two-dimensional panel, the mnemonic problem, as well as the pictorial convention of the opposition between figure and background.

As I already mentioned, the situation with the figure is straightforward, but the background seems to be all at once distinctly localised and systematically implied or signed within the context of the new panic-mongering political realities unfolding in Eastern Europe along with the war that began in that fateful year of 2022. Such is this dualism of planes where a solar one, expressed either through typical elements of a consumerist society, through objects designed to match the Western standard, or through specific places of lounge culture such as the beach, the luxuriant garden, and the pool, is suddenly laid over the typically Eastern realities, often implied through an electrically charged purple storm, or through crammed standardised apartment blocks, concrete panel fences, or entropic stabilopods—those concrete structures, signatures of the Black Sea shore. Whenever the composition features Western architectural elements, they are also part of the brutalist category, the most remarkable example being the Barbican Centre. Along with the figure of the artist’s intimate horizon, it is no surprise that it always appears on secured ground, be it within the solar Western space or sheltered by solid structures.

If we consider the planes between the figure and the background, they are encompassed within an interstitial space, meaning they exist in that structural place between things known as the fringe of chaos that determines all physics systems. According to Janet Fiskio, this interstice is more of a process than a stable place or fixed location, existing in and between scattered spaces along an experience-like continuum, thus creating self-manifesting alternative metaverses that simultaneously manifest within a single, unified space.

When this aporetic instance doesn’t occur, we confront yet another fundamental problem of the pictural convention, totally opposed to the first one, at least in terms of periodicity, that of the grid, which lateralizes and implicitly abstracts the composition. It is no longer about the small transcoded everyday moments but about the constitutive elements of the act of painting/painting itself: digitalized entities (line and plane), both reduced to a single key element resembling an atomized encryption, and the impressionist and often nostalgically autographed blur of the colour that defines typical images of the post-communist context: brutalist housing blocks as architectural models, cranes, and concrete-loaded parking lots— crude melancholies of the ruin.

Within this composition, there seems to be no distinction between the plane and representation, or, more accurately, the plane is the representation, and the field of view is the whole image. The whole surface appears as a grid from a distance. In creating this effect, the artist employs different techniques, some mechanical and some manual. On the other hand, when viewed up close, this element appears as if it has been shaved off from the image, much like it would happen if we were looking at it from behind the standard window grill referenced by the compositional, contre-jour element in the strong sunlight screened by isotropic concrete.

Other than the obvious photorealistic aspect, what binds these artworks to the field and technique of photography and also to his earlier periods of creation—another aspect discussed at the beginning of the XXth century—can be found right among the structural proprieties of some of the artworks themselves. In this case, we are talking about the employment of a frame that resembles that of a Polaroid photo—an almost but not quite squared shape—a setting that suggests an atmospheric spatial stillness along with the tiniest bit of movement, just enough to embed a lingering eerie feeling.

Through these binary, precisely delimitated elements, Marcel Rusu renders idealised bits of spaces, some experiential places of a collective imaginary. His artworks are both visible representations of our own cartographic experiences within urban spaces and, in some cases, meta-artistical references to art history compositions. The scenes seem to emanate light from within, just like dioramas, and this weightlessness is inspired by the exacerbated element of weather, through this deep purple, electrified storm—retaining this colour, deep purple, all in itself a symbol of Eastern spirituality—or the before mentioned solar spaces, uniformly idealised and typically expected from some sort of Canaletto somewhere in cold, damp England –

A Hard Rain is Gonna Fall*


Text: Horațiu Lipot



*the title of the exhibition is a direct reference to the song A Hard Rain’s A-Gonna Fall by Bob Dylan

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