Ioana Ursa: Rites of Passage
In her current solo show, on view through January 22nd, 2016 at Cuhnia Gallery, “The Brancovan Palaces” Cultural Center in Mogoșoaia (near Bucharest), Ioana Ursa explores the rites of passage in the life of a woman, as curator Raluca Băloiu explains. A hellish image of great suffering haunts each painting, as the stages of existence, from discovering one’s own femininity to assuming the responsibilities of adulthood, to love and marriage or giving birth, unfold their horror.
In the transition from one moment to the other, both fire and water seem to play crucial roles. The symbol of water is highlighted in the tears of the female figures, in the rivers flowing in natural landscapes of shattered beauty and lost peace, unable to weaken the flames and ease the pain, and sometimes acts as a preserver of all these burning memories reflected in its mirrors. If the water is a silent observer and constant reminder of the marks of the past, of one’s personal history, the imperishable fire may be, in a religious deciphering, the imminent punishment, the burden. But agony has a certain grace in the work of Ioana Ursa – it purifies, it heals the spirit and enriches the individual with the power of creation. No matter how many are the forces pushing back, the characters have the extraordinary ability to always move forward, to carry their dreams and hopes beyond their physical misery.
We find many influences in this series of thought-provoking works which do not only speak of a woman’s status over time, but also of the status of the female artist and the artist in general, as it emerges in Ioana Ursa’s complex and metaphoric representation, inspired by Renaissance symbols, Christian iconography, the compositions of Hieronymus Bosch, classic cinematography or the routine of the everyday life. And the pain is worryingly familiar – we’ve read about it, watched it on the big screens, in the news, and even felt it – the anger, the fear, the doubt, the impatience it brings, the inner conflicts and revelations are all part of our dramatic becoming we are rarely aware of. There is no beginning and no end, no past and no future, there is no border between the conscious and unconscious reality, only a continuous passing between present states which always tears us inside, contributing to the ups and downs, to our rise or fall.
Photos by Luca Achim, courtesy of Ioana Ursa. Curator: Raluca Băloiu.