L'origine de l'espace privé &&&
October 5th - November 30th, 2012
Drapery in grisaille, stained with pale primaries, opens Paul Branca’s first solo exhibition in Romania, L'origine de l'espace privé &&& at Galeria Sabot. Here symbols of private gestures picked over from modernism’s past and the artist’s personal language, which considers paintings proposition towards picturing the social, are entwined within the works.
Édouard Manet painted both public works for official salons, but also made many private images, often illustrating his letters where he wrote on serious matters such as the Franco-Prussian War and even more serious matters, like from which Parisian boutique he bought his shoes earlier that day. Late in life he drew, with delicate throws of watercolor and ink, marginalia of woman’s legs with an attentive gaze upon the subject’s shoes. Surrounded by his sensitive words, these drawings speak to his private work - being once criticized by presenting the dark interior of a Paris apartment in his Le balcon, 1868, as viewed from the street. Painting as privacy perhaps fails as a subject - we all want our works to be looked at, and for a long time, but the act of painting, both its conception and materialisation, is itself a private act, at least for the majority of painters.
Branca’s recent inquiry into painting as private act is based not only upon Manet’s personal letters, but also refers to a 19th century political cartoon by the French satirist Cham picturing “the wall of private life.” Here the protagonist, on vacation, is obfuscated and walled in by bricks, only his silk top hat visible. At Sabot, each work displays signs and objects that circulate throughout the exhibition, from ubiquitous canvas keys, normally out of sight and snugly secured into the stretchers from behind, figured across fields of green gold and variations upon primary colors, an attempt to ground these compositions within a specific Romanian context. In this exhibition almost everything repeats itself throughout: ampersands, generic 8 ½ x 11 inch color rectangles, stains, and smears. A painted canvas is turned around, while a dandy’s silk top hat casts a long shadow down below. The comical appearance of a tomato and a peach, nearly life size, propose a tangible, natural softness to this gesture towards historical privacy.
Two framed collages depict a door’s peephole viewed from both inside the apartment and from the outside, where one’s view in is obstructed. The photographs of these peepholes are mounted upon a gestural painted field of either lights or darks. In another work, Shoe/Keys, cut-out contours of shoes and canvas keys dance across the wall in a zig-zag composition. The shoes not only refer to Manet’s drawings, but also stress a locational identity: the billboard sign atop Cluj’s former shoe factory, the Fabrica Clujana. One of the shoes is cut out from the cardboard box used to transport the entire exhibition from the United States, through Italy, to Romania. It has adhesive tape from the Department of Homeland Security, proving, as they inspected these works at JFK International Airport, that privacy, even within painting, is subject to invasion.
Paul Branca’s recent group exhibitions include Estate, Marianne Boesky, New York (2012); Last Laugh, Anat Ebgi/The Company, Los Angeles (2012); Gli amori difficili, Scaramouche, New York (2012); Let Us Keep Our Own Noon, Galerie West, The Hague (2012); Matter out of place, The Kitchen, New York (2012); Grand Tour Low Cost, Spazio Morris, Milan (2011).
The exhibition is part of “The Factory of Contemporary Art” project, kindly supported by The Paintbrush Factory and the Administration of National Cultural Fund.