Marius Bercea at François Ghebaly

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Artist: Marius Bercea

Exhibition title: (On) Relatively Calm Disputes

Venue: François Ghebaly, Los Angeles, US

Date: April 9 – June 14, 2016

Photography: all images copyright and courtesy of the artist and François Ghebaly, Los Angeles

Ghebaly Gallery is pleased to present (On) Relatively Calm Disputes, an exhibition of new paintings by Marius Bercea, the artist’s third solo show with the gallery.

For this new body of work, the artist expands his subject matter well beyond the depictions of Romanian landscapes and nostalgic scenes that he is best known for, broadening the scope of investigation recorded onto the canvases to include commentary on the global state of affairs, internal dialogues about authentic identity, and ruminations on the overbearing excess of utopian rationality as expressed through constructed environments. While elements of previous bodies of work still remain integral to this new series, most evidently his use of figures amid architectural features, Bercea allows these paintings to transcend locality.

Informed by the dramatic shift from a longstanding communist rule to a capitalist consumerist system he experienced while growing up in Cluj (located in the Transylvania region of Romania), the paintings on view point to an internalization of the signs and tendencies of two opposing aesthetic regimes. As the disparate dichotomies converge on the canvas, they produce a wholly hybrid territory that moves beyond identification with geographic space. Instead, the paintings act as dialogical platforms where Bercea speaks to the cacophony of contemporary life, where vaguely reminiscent architectural motifs are draped in the tattered vestiges of mid-century modernist ideals, and scenes are overrun with the exuberant entropy of vegetation. Here, Bercea presents a postmodernist Arcadia where a sparse population of nondescript pastoralists commiserate among morose landscapes and overzealous flora. These convoluted signs obfuscate any association with any real locale. It could be anywhere and nowhere.

Although the paintings speak to the transnationality of cultural modes, Bercea’s imagery is still grounded by the paradigmatic ruptures he witnessed in his native Romania. As such, the paintings are a result of an agglomeration of memories, personal documentation, and fantastic landscapes inspired by lived experiences that are woven together to portray a placeless reality that exists only in the picture plane. The flashes of luminescent colors that abound in Bercea’s work serve to reinforce this mystique. The brilliant strokes of neons jut up against austere purples and fiery reds. At the same time, the presence of dark earth tones tempers this vitality as the ominous greens of the shrubbery pull away from the magical and plant the scenes in an abstracted realism. These contrasting color profiles alongside the concrete greys lends to the artist’s unique ability to forge lived-in worlds. Bercea places the viewer square within this distopic landscape, often as a voyeur behind robust foliage. This visual layering is compounded by the physicality of the vacillation between thick impasto application of oil paints and the fluidity of washes of pigment streaking across the compositions. As the colors and textures crash into one another, the materiality of the works draw away from an internal logic and reveal Bercea’s investment in the tradition of painting.











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Marius Bercea, Appearance and Second Game, 2016

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Marius Bercea, Body Toner Satire, 2015

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Marius Bercea, Cowboy Surfer, 2015

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Marius Bercea, Fellow Biologists, 2016

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Marius Bercea, Half Coin Sun, 2015

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Marius Bercea, Isotopes of Haze, 2016

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Marius Bercea, Lover of Plants and Newspapers, 2016

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Marius Bercea, Midmodern Temptation of Eve, 2015

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Marius Bercea, Personified Wildness, 2015

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Marius Bercea, Shepherds, Sulfuric Moonflowers, 2016

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Marius Bercea, Swords Against Nitrogen Oxides, 2016

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Marius Bercea, Untitled, 2015

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Marius Bercea, Untitled, 2015

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Marius Bercea, Untitled, 2015

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Marius Bercea, Untitled (Ulysses), 2015