Roman Tolici – Artist Book release and exhibition
Roman Tolici’s artist book was launched on November 25th, 2016, at Mobius Gallery in Bucharest, during the opening of his first itinerary exhibition which will move on over the next two years to Moscow – the artist currently has a solo show there, Dark Matter, on view through December 18th at Triumph Gallery, to London, Lisbon, Paris, New York, and Toronto.
The one-week exhibition at Mobius featured two of his most recent canvases – Accident in Amzei Square and Studio Visit, as well as two early works – Shelf 1 and Shelf 2. The first, which is the cover of the artist book, shows a giant bleeding heart, the victim of a terrible accident, one might assume, in a striking visual contrast with the white snow and, due to its unnatural size, almost threatening yet fascinating to the tiny passer-by who can only stare speechless in front of such a dramatic scene. The policemen, firefighters and ambulance doctors also seem overwhelmed by this unusual situation. Although separated from the body, the heart feels more alive now as it lies injured on the buildings, waiting to be rescued or perhaps finally defeated, than inside whoever has lost it, it gains a life of its own.
The artist explains the creation process for this particular piece: “It was summer, or autumn, and I was walking in Amzei Square in Bucharest, when I witnessed this on-going scene: a fire had engulfed the upper floors of a house; the fire had been extinguished already, the street was full of passer-by, curious like me, firemen, police officers, ambulance doctors. There was this huge piece of metal sheet, collapsed on the street; it had probably fallen from the roof of the building, during the fire. It looked like a crashed, dead monster. This is how I saw it. The scene contained all the ingredients of a drama, with a monster fatally crashed in a real space, in a city which could have been any other city in the world. (…) To me, that piece of contorted metal was the very essence of the drama. The beauty, the complexity and the significance of this drama fascinated me and remained stuck in my mind.”
While revisiting the place during winter, Roman Tolici acquired a new perspective of the city, which he documented through photography, as he often does: “Some pencil sketches followed, but I looked for its spirit more in the imagination, in the places visited, in the pictures taken. I was planning to use a large canvas, but then I decided to do a study, an oil sketch, on a small canvas. I worked a lot on this study, as I kept changing it. I used the photographic documentation only as a guideline, for the atmosphere, as the small dimensions of the canvas did not allow for minutiae. I have to confess, at this point, that the act of painting involves an on-going meditation on the subject painted. I did not know from the very beginning who will be the monster, what will be the drama. Everything was going to become clear during the process, taking the shape of a huge bleeding heart. That sketch consumed me so much, that I gave up the idea of resuming the subject on a larger canvas. I saw the image as a snow globe, with a small town inside, this huge bleeding heart crashed amongst the buildings, and with everything covered in snow, like in a fairy tale. In a very special way, that work set me free, cured me, saved me, at least for the time being; this happens with every work I do. In a way or another, all my works save me, cure me, set me free; but, beyond everything else, I pursue the understanding of the world. I do not hide anything, from others or from myself. I only make a selection.” (Roman Tolici, 2016, excerpt from the book)
Accident in Amzei Square, oil on canvas, 59 x 48 cm, 2014
After the experience of the bleeding heart, the visitor at Mobius Gallery would stumble upon Studio Visit, a painting showing a gigantic human brain trapped inside the walls of a building too narrow to encompass such an expansive mind, striving to reach the light.
Studio Visit, oil on canvas, 87 x 50 cm, 2016
The other two works depict bookshelves with titles that have probably influenced the artist, especially at the beginning of his career, and elements pointing to certain tools – the camera which helps Tolici capture real situations that he later uses as inspiration for his paintings – or the rocking horse, a symbol which may suggest that, when he was painting these works, he was at the very start of his artistic journey.
Shelf 1, oil on canvas, 100 x 200 cm, 2004
Shelf 2, oil on canvas, 100 x 200 cm, 2004
The past and the present intersect in the gallery space as they do in the book, which presents the artistic path of Roman Tolici, from his initial paintings to the latest ones, including the SIMVLACRVM series and his 2016 canvases. Throughout the 250 pages featuring an ample essay written by Pascal Bruckner, a text by curator Matt Price, and snapshots from interviews and conversations of the artist with curator Oana Tănase (texts in English, Romanian and French), we discover valuable insights related to a body of work spreading over more than a decade.
You can purchase the book directly from Mobius Gallery (#2 Mendeleev Street, sector 1, Bucharest), or order via e-mail, at firstname.lastname@example.org, or by phone, at +40 726 152 156 (Roxana Gamart) // +40 729 998 199 (Mira Burke).
Project sponsored by: Publicis One, National Cultural Fund Association
Partners: Mobius Gallery, Pandora M, Romanian Cultural Institute, S.E.R.V.E.
Project initiated by: Kontakt Association
Photos: The re:art