Young Romanian Art is an exhibition project that allows me to pursue a series of personal interests. The first is the promotion of young art. The second is the attempt to coagulate a professional context in which I could feel that I can work surrounded by parallel initiatives. This would remove my personal feeling of loneliness within an indifferent and unwelcoming cultural environment. A third aim would be to start collaborations with cultural institutions, in order to materialize my first two interests.

Contemporary artists make their careers advance through self-promotion and through the management of their own professional positions. Often, this attitude leads to the accumulation of privileges according to the success obtained, but it also leads to isolation in an area of prosperity and personal prestige, that one enjoys in solitude.

So far I have started two initiatives to break, as much as possible, this pattern. In June 2008 I opened a home gallery in which ten exhibitions took place, at the end of which all the exhibits were given to the public through a raffle or tombola procedure. Viewers had the possibility to walk home with the works that they had seen. They were more able to judge contemporary art from a minimum distance, because it invaded their personal space.

Also, beginning with September 2008, I went to the George Cosbuc high school in Bucharest and taught a contemporary art class. It was imagined as a game with scale models of representative works from the period between 1950 and 1990. I invested my own money in the objects and I did not ask for any fee.

I am interested in the idea of generosity, as much as it is possible for it to be materialized in a world where all interactions must be formalized in order to mean something, and where it is practically impossible to give everything to everyone. The balance between an egalitarian impulse connected to idealism and the constraints of reality is what I have been looking for in some of my projects so far.

Young Romanian Art is another attempt to share resources, this time connected to the possibilities of presentation and promotion of one’s work. Instead of exhibiting my own production within the new gallery of the Romanian Cultural Institute in Venice for six months, during my residency, I chose to share the exhibition space with other artists. I do not know if this gesture will be made by other people in the future, but I felt it was necessary, at a personal level.

My intention is to make a polemic gesture against the Romanian institutional context in general, which is not very interested in supporting young art. At the same time, I am interested in formulating new possibilities of functioning for young artists in this context, by creating other strategies. The Museum of Young Art that will be established when I go back home works around the same principle.

The project is only a temporary solution for a specific problem of a small group – young artists – in a cultural environment where there are other problems and other people who deal with difficulties in representing themselves and their work, as well as in obtaining support for their activity. All of the above do not mean that among the selected artists there are not some who have a functional and prosperous professional life. Their participation signals a gesture of solidarity, rather than a real need for representation within this context.

The exhibitions aim at making a weak, banal statement – there is young art to be found in Romania. After 45 years of Social Realism, contemporary art becomes a widely-spread and widely-used language, which has not yet displaced painting and sculpture of a certain type (nor their theoretical and mental landscapes). However, it lives a parallel destiny, which is maybe its best way of existence.

Initiatives such as the New Gallery in Bucharest and Omagiu magazine have disappeared. It is time that new channels for new art make their appearance outside a commercial circuit, in an area of non-profit cultural production. This is another reason for the creation of Young Romanian Art, an attempt at making visible on the international art scene the work of 33 Romanian artists born between 1968 and 1986, for five months, during the Venice Art Biennial in 2009.

I used a resonant label, connected to young British artists. Between them and the Romanian artists a gap of motivation, content and funding exists. Young Romanian Art is just a linguistic game that aims at attracting attention on a major segment of the recent contemporary art production in Romania.

The exhibitions are made up of works that were produced in the last five years (2004 – 2009). I did not have a budget to commission new works from the selected artists. This is how the idea of an anthology took shape - more than that of an exhibition bringing together new works. This is where the aspect of archive came from, as an accumulation of objects and gestures. I was interested to create the possibility of having a global view on the phenomena of young art, without pretending to be exhaustive.

The aesthetic and conceptual limit of the selection was traced by personal choices, less strict than I would have initially thought. There is also an anthropological level of understating of the project. I gathered and printed all the rejected proposals inside a file that accompanies the exhibition. Along with the exhibited works, the project can also be seen as a small archive that contains some of those who call themselves young Romanian artists, and their respective works. This way, Young Romanian Art is open to an understanding broader than subjective aesthetic and conceptual prejudices.

The value, medium, or directions chosen recommend the pieces included in the series of exhibitions as very diverse. Cynicism, bliss, humor, disappointment, loneliness and in-depth analysis go hand in hand in order to shape a series of attitudes against reality, but also against collective or individual imaginary universes.

From a visual point of view the selected artists produce very different reactions. Photography, painting, sculpture, interventions in public space and objects function in their own niche, as inside a separate medium. There is no common feeling nor any common aim of the works. Some of them are images that can be connected to a Post-Communist universe, sometimes viewed from a critical perspective, sometimes with pop features. Others are completely contemporary through the subjects chosen and their look.

One of the favorite subjects of many of the works is made up by the modifications in collective psyche and social structure. The pieces produced mark a new freedom of approach that lies outside painting schools or Socialist Realism, two driving forces in the Romanian cultural space, whose reminiscences are still strongly felt today in common taste, in art schools and galleries alike.

The break with the cultural past is carried out in a very nuanced manner. Some artists entirely give up all visual antecedents, while others use these as residue or raw matter, in order to place into discussion the formidable power of cultural stereotypes.

Visual cliches connected to the Orthodox Church and the Communist Party are appropriated and re-used in amusing ways. Sometimes they are being discussed with visual means that depart theoretical and visual traditions. There are also directions that are connected to daydreaming and playfulness – these have nothing to do with the attempts at reforming the state of affairs on this Earth. There is also enough space for more intellectual practices, or for purely conceptual ones, interested in the dynamics of insignificant objects and attitudes, that are marvelous in their simplicity.

Snobbery, the commercial aspect, or the prejudices of the artistic context in Romania are also taken into account and criticized, sometimes in an ironic, sometimes in a sarcastic manner. With the help of photography, archives of places and people are being collected, whose potential to become representative types is manifest. The changes in collective behavior in the rural areas are regarded from an ironical and documentary point of view.

The revolutionary potential of art is at the same time intensely explored, but also ridiculed or even completely left aside, because Romania is a country that was brainwashed by Marxist propaganda for 45 years. What these works try to convey is a more generic sense of freedom, as skepticism is quite high against all artistic and political ideologies.

Mircea Nicolae