Ioan Augustin Pop

Collective Self-portrait

October 13th - November 17th 2022

Curators: Magda Cârneci, Mălina Ionescu

Project Coordinator: Mihaela Velea

PR Coordinator: Laura Tiparu

Collective Self-portrait is the fifth chapter of project TzaraGordian, ongoing since 2014. The first four parts - Passato al tempo futuro ( 2017), Approximative Reality (2021), The Memory of Shadows on a Glass Cube and On Matter and Public Matters, both opened in 2022 – make the connection with former themes and projects and at the same time mark a shift of focus, a return from the outside towards the most profound layers of the self. From an intensely reactive, critical observation, the attention moves gradually towards an analysis of the appearance of the visual image from associations of elements often surprising for the artist himself, who identified the process as a method of organizing the flow of information and thought. This research on the associative patterns and overlapping of inner (cultural, affective and emotional) elements with fragments of outer realities translates directly, at this point in the project, in self-portraits inserted in the depicted images. However the self-portrait is – still – collective, as stated in the title of the exhibition. It remains connected to the incidental, the social reality perceived as hostile, self-referential fragments inserted in the crowd of silhouettes which are often anonymous but often identifiable as medics or military personnel, political figures of an oppressive present or a traumatic past. Or in opposition, the self-portrait becomes central to the painting, and it describes and narrates a state of mind or situation. All of these figures populate an aggressive, crowded environment, which in the former projects, among which Industrial Archaeologies, was left depopulated by annulment and loss, a space of ruin triggered by absence and abandonment.

Collective Self-portrait showcases the first painting of the series: Global Self-portrait, from 2011, and also several beginnings of themes and sub-series, as in his work the themes and subjects always flow from each other, react and evolve in connection with the former or subsequent series. Themes such as petrol, ruin, chaos, crisis, madness, pandemic and war are inevitably associated with cultural themes which vary from literary references to artworks, landmarks in the history of arts, artistic methods (experimental ones included, such as collage, digital prints or performances), formal and stylistic elements pertaining to different ages – and visual – chromatic or compositional - themes. Among those central to his artistic project are the realism in his multitude of hypostases, the statute and relevance of painting, questioned and at the same time re-affirmed; mediation and the dynamic between representation and expression.

The particular structure of these associations and strata of meaning is not always easily read, beyond the common places and obvious references, so the artist analyses each artworks, as it develops its own narrative and explanation. With each painting the artist searches and settles for new connections, new anchor points and guidelines for a world he criticizes, ironically and vehemently – but not militantly - in a continuous exercise of positioning / re-positioning of a self that is at the same time artistic, social and emotional.

Mălina Ionescu

Ioan Augustin Pop (b.1955, Zalău) is a Romanian artist and professor, currently lives and works in Oradea and Timișoara. In 1983 he graduated the Cluj Art Academy. Between 1986 and 1990 he exhibited with Atelier 35 – Oradea and became a member of UAP Romania in 1990. He taught painting in the art schools in Cluj and Timișoara, where currently he coordinates doctoral studies in art. He was awarded numerous prizes including the UAP Romania Prize for Painting, in 1998 and 2014. His artistic practice, often experimental and including performances and collages, focuses as of late mainly on painting.