Adrian Ghenie, Pie Fight Interior 8 (2012), Courtesy Pace Gallery
Romanian painter Adrian Ghenie’s first U.S. gallery exhibition, Adrian Ghenie: New Paintings, explores a dark, distorted side of modern European history, pulling images from publications, films, and artistic sources and blending them with his own personal memories and visceral artistic style. The exhibition is presented by Pacc Gallery, which has represented the artist since 2011.
Born in 1977 in Baja Mare, Romania, Ghenie attended the University of Art and Design in Cluj, Romania, and currently lives and works between Cluj and Berlin. He has held solo exhibitions worldwide, from Bucharest, Romania to Denver, Colorado, and he has been included in exhibitions at the Tate Liverpool, the Prague Biennial, the 54th Biennale di Venezia, the San Francisco Museum of Modern Art, and Bucharest Biennial. In 2005, he also co-founded Galeria Plan B, a space for contemporary art and center for research on contemporary Romanian art.
The exhibition at Pace includes pieces from Pie Fight, an ongoing series he began in 2008, and returned to in 2012. Ghenie works at the duality of the images he creates, exploring how the two disparate tropes play against each other while simultaneously working in tandem to create new meanings. In these works, thick paint obscures the human faces, evoking themes of lost individuality and the irony of horrific historical events. These dark, surreal images take figures such as Adolf Hitler and Charles Darwin, and transform them into faceless, unrecognizable non-humans. Paralleling this loss of identity, the pie fight brings a comical note to the works, robbing the figures of their historical stature through slapstick imagery.
Burnett Abrams, the curator of Ghenie’s first U.S. exhibition, refers to his strategy as one attempting “to alter — destroy, really — this historical legacy…By attacking his distinctive features and sullying his face with thick strokes of oil paint…”
Ghenie’s more recent works on view are slightly more abstract, but remain focused on layering and texturing the canvas with different consistencies of paint. He uses the techniques of scraping and spilling color, and often makes use of self-portraiture. Consistent themes involve the mixture of history and the absurd, combining his own imagination with archival interpretations of past events.
Adrian Ghenie, Untitled (2012), Courtesy Pace Gallery
Adrian Ghenie: New Paintings is accompanied by a catalogue including an essay by Nora Burnett Abrams, who curated the Denver exhibition. The exhibition will continue at Pace Gallery in New York through May 4, 2013.