Artist: Alexandru Rădvan

Curator: Diana Dochia

07.04.2011 – 07.05.2011

Opening: 07.04.2011, at 07:30 p.m.

The Secularization of Art

“The man to whom fate hasn’t given to his birth the spirit of the divine discontent towards all that it exits will never find anything new”.

Richard Wagner

If it is true that the artists have the duty to reflect the society in which they live and to draw the attention on the conflicts and the absurdities which constitute this society through their visions, then it means that the contemporary society is amongst those that have a lot to offer. The possibility of resuscitating and rewriting the sacred history appears from David Salle to Damien Hirst, from Jenny Saville to Matthew Barney, from Mike Kelly to Hiroshi Sugimoto, being one of the most new significant approaches of the contemporary art.

The problem of spirituality in the framework of the modern and contemporary art represents a rich theme of research and questioning. Seen as a triumph of rationality, as a result of capitalism and industrialization, modernity is the frame in which the feeling of expelling of the sacred becomes more and more present. The modernism entered in the Western Christian culture at the same time with the desire of questioning the ecclesiastical dogmas. The artists, freed from the ecclesiastical dogmas, construct their own artistic program in accordance with their inner spiritual turmoil. In other words their art becomes autonomous and extremely individualized, submitted to their own inner oppressive visions. At this moment the desire and the necessity of exploiting a sacred appears which as the time passes by becomes more and more secular. This secularization has multiple reverberations within the postmodernism and opens new ways of interrogation and research in the framework of the contemporary art of the 21st century.

Human beings consider certain human beings, places, times and things as being sacred. Through contemporary art the understanding of When?, Where?, Why? is tried and How? these considerations appeared. Alexandru Rădvan asks himself, he tackles a problem; he questions the human dimension of the divine. Christ-The human is been given to us by Alexandru Rădvan in all his humanity. Rădvan doesn’t contest Christ’s existence or his divine dimension, but he approaches the actual context in which Christ, the Son of God is perceived and understood by the human beings of the 21st century.

Theodor Adorna in Minima Moralia considered that “Every piece of art is a non committed felony”1, and Alain de Botton in his work The Consolation of Philosophy stated: “What is considering being abnormal within a group at a time may not be appreciated this way forever. We can trespass borders in our mind.”2. This border trespassing is defined by Michel Foucault as transgression. The transgression exceeds and doesn’t stop to exceed a limit once again. This game with a limit appears extremely well outlined within Alexandru’s Rădvan artistic evolution. Rădvan doesn’t interpose a thing, doesn’t make a thing fall into the game of derision and doesn’t try to shake the reliability of fundaments. There is nothing negative in Rădvan’s work or in the concept of transgression. Alexandru Rădvan brings into discussion Christianity and the way in which the contemporary society relates to the Christian values. It’s about a serious approach in which the interrogation of the human dimension goes down into the deepest searching of the inner self. It is a heartbreaking vision of a disordered world in which the myth lost its rights.

Geoffrey Hartman wrote “literature and contemporary art have an almost complete freedom of expression. When rules or norms intercede, these have especially the role of being foils with the purpose of being broken. Thus my first thought is that there is no limit in representation even when we talk about Shoah, but only conceptualization limits”3. The artist Alexandru Rădvan makes a critique and at the same time discharges a vision full of compassion towards the initial subject. Nietzsche thought that in ethics continuous adjustments and readjustments are made in accordance with the context in which a piece of work comes into existence and the way in which this piece of art is perceived. The problem of perceiving the contemporary art is extremely sensible. The reception of the cotemporary art is binding and engaging. It is a challenge at the level of thinking; it is the rewriting of a new humanity within a new society.

The role of art is that of overcoming taboos and social preconceptions. “I believe in images’ ability of narrating. I believe that painting is a living phenomenon which cannot be approached with circumspection and attention, but totally, without the concern that you might get up rumpled from this confrontation. As in a fight”, confessed Alexandru Rădvan. The writer Bell Hook noted: “Art, especially painting, was, for me a field in which any imposed boundary could be transgressed”4. Our reactions as watchers can be contradictory: astonishment, excitement, denial, enthusiasm, consternation.

Curator: Diana Dochia

ADORNO Theodor, Minima Moralia. Suhrkamp: Verlag, 1951
BOTTON Alain De, The Consolation of Philosophy, London, 2001.
JULIUS Anthony, Transgression. The Offences of Art, Vellant: Bucharest, 2008, pg. 263.
HOOK Bell, Art on My Mind: Visual Politics, New York, 1995.

Press release – Christ, Alexandru Radvan