Retracing Identity
September 8 - November 10, 2022
Artist: Radu Băieș

Radu Băieș (b. 1988, Cluj, Romania) lives and works in Cluj. He studied painting at the University of Art and Design in Cluj (2008-2011, BA, 2011-2013, MA, 2020-present, PHD). His art was exhibited in Romania, the ... [read more]

Blue moon reflexion, Memories from the journey, 180x150cm, oil on canvas, 2022
Sunset, end of journey, 180x150cm, oil on canvas, 2018-2022
Leaving the garden, snake bite, 188x190cm, oil on canvas, 2018
He recognized him at once, because the hereditary memory had been transmitted from generation to generation […]

Being identical to oneself – this is how we define identity according to the dictionary. It isn’t without difficulty to talk about identity because at any given time our perception of identity endures despite the fact that the identity’s object is constantly changing. In other words, even while the body does not appear to be similar at any two points in time physically, each of us experiences ourselves continuously. Additionally, there are some crucial circumstances (when the alleged loss of identity happens) when identity itself is automatically questioned, with or without us being conscious of it. When all that used to be safely known loses its coherence, engulfed in a gentle but terrifyingly pervasive fog, only then the “re-formation” of the world occurs.

“Retracing Identity” represents Radu Băieș’s choice to thematize both this moment of balance in which the fracture of identity takes place, and what follows after; the result breaks from the personal level to that of general experiences, to which each viewer adds different meanings, identifying them from the perspective built on their own experiences. This whole process of translation from the personal to the general is triggered and carried out by the human ability to perceive symbols, and the intrinsically symbolic nature of the works is felt through certain elements whose recurrence is not accidental. Probably the most noticeable example is that of the character with the hat who appears obsessively throughout the exhibition. With each ghostly presence, it invites deeper and deeper interpretations, becoming a meaningful guide, a landmark that leads the gaze through obscure landscapes. The processes by which these appearances come to have a symbolic meaning are instantaneous, and the symbolic meaning emerges as a result of a desire to make “something” known – something which is typically outside the realm of common knowledge.

Curiously, we recognize the images at first glance, before any attempt at metaphorical or symbolic decipherment. Somehow, we may realize we are familiar with the landscape, with the vegetation, even with the man in the hat, as if they were all vaguely known in some kind of shared dream. The dream dimension becomes particularly relevant, as it is where identity is distorted and pushed to the limits of its fragile existence. The unconscious mind can be expressed in dreams, which are frequently used as a psychological tool for examining the symbolic capacity of the mind. Recollections, nostalgia, and even déjà-vu feelings can all be experienced in regard to specific symbolic places. The concept of hereditary memory, often known as genetic memory, is created in the same context and assumes that memories can be passed on through the genome before sensory awareness develops. As a result, this assumption holds that a person perceives so-called images, forms, or people through the lens of information held by generations before him. At this point the meaning of the initial quote is fully revealed. In the fictional scenario of Gabriel García Márquez’s novel there is the significant moment when Aureliano Segundo’s genetic memory enables him to recognize the memory of Melquiades’ figure, despite the latter’s lack of a physical reference that could confirm the existence of that long-lost person, a friend of his grandfather and great-grandfather. In the same way we come to recognize Radu Băieş’s artworks when we find ourselves face to face with them. Here, the identity of what is being looked at is equated with the identity of the observer, who learns through a lengthy series of historical or personal experiences that the world is shaped through him. This viewpoint highlights the individual as the lone creator of the symbolic world and signifies man’s sentence to solitude.

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