Art Safari Bucharest kicks off on Friday re-introducing Kretzulescu Galleries, a former Securitate HQ during communism, into the urban circuit, following an almost three-month period of revamping works.
The fourth edition of the major art Pavilion in Romania means about 7,000 square meters of art downtown Bucharest as of May 19 until June 18.
As every year, the art fair plans to reintroduce forgotten spaces into the urban circuit. If in 2015 it was the Ciclop Garage revived, and last year it was the Dacia-Romania Palace’s turn, 2017 set eyes on Kretzulescu Galleries hosted in a building designed by famous inter-war architect G.M. Cantacuzino and ‘seized’ by the communists to turn it into one of the headquarters of the fearful secret police, Securitate. The building still keeps the memory of the bullets shot during the Revolution days in 1989.
Ioana Ciocan, CEO Art Safari said in a press conference on Thursday that for instance, the fifth floor of the building has been left unchanged, like “a memory of the former Securitate’s HQ,” with an area hosting a dark room and another one a former torture chamber.
The fifth floor is also hosting The Space, dedicated to the young artists at the beginning of their careers.
The rooms where the interrogatories used to take place are on the second floor, which shelters the Luchian exhibition right now. “The tapping rooms have been turned into spaces for Luchian’s works, with the oak sound-proof walls being preserved,” said Ioana Ciocan.
In his turn, the architect of Art Safari this year, Vladimir Nicula said that despite being so austere and severe, the building is revealing his initial architect’s polish, with perfectly proportioned elements and with the square as leit-motif. Nicula said that, according to the well-known principle “less is more”, their intervention has been as discrete as possible, but focused on three main pillars: cleaning (repair works, with hundreds of tons of debris being taken out), safety and adapting the building to the demands of the Art Safari event.
The Museum Pavilion of Art Safari 2017 is dedicated to Romanian painter Stefan Luchian, occasioned by the artist’s centennial last year and will comprise over 130 works of the artist coming from 20 museums and private collections.
“It’s not easy to borrow patrimony art works from 20 museums all over the country and it’s now a big opportunity to admire over 130 works by Luchian in one single place. It hasn’t been easy to convince private collectors to give up their priceless works for a whole month, but any exhibition would be reft of their essential components without the works from private collections,” said Alina Rentea, the director of the Museum Pavilion, who managed the Luchian and Independents exhibition.
Another novelty is the Art Safari Young Ambassadors programme, which enables pupils and students to guide the children visiting the exhibitions. The young guides come from the Romanian art high schools and faculties.
The Central Exhibition of the Contemporary Art Pavilion, “Notes on a Landscape” is curated by Belgian curator Wim Waelput, which offers a glimpse over the times of the Romanian classic painting up to the contemporary one, while addressing various types of messages and of social role of the Romanian artist and focusing on the identity and geopolitical factors.
“I was not quite acquainted with the Romanian art context, although I knew may Romanian artists. It was no easy job to do, for a Belgian curator who was not familiar with the local context,” Wim Waelput admitted.
“It’s not a historical art exhibition, it spans through more than one hundred and fifty years of art history. I tried to create new stories, to connect certain elements from history and to create a narrative process.
It’s more like a proposition, not a historical art fact, how I understood and read Romanian art from mid-19th century until today and how I see the relations to the history of the country.
I didn’t take into account the chronological line, I chose to work with chapters, different elements in different moments of art history and try to connect them,” he added.
The exhibition comprises five such chapters: “Fluid Identity” exploring the identity as a national and cultural concept; “Artists as Witness” and “The Hybrid Artist” approach the impact of the social and political media’s change on the artistic production, focusing on the artist’s role as an observer of time; “My Beloved Bucharest”, scrutinizes practices related to the controlled public space and “Decolonising the Self” discovers a new art scene in search of a new cultural identity during and after transition.
The Galleries Pavilion will be a dynamic space this year, with Romanian and foreign galleries on display, by rotation, with the audience being able to visit new exhibitions every week. Among the exhibitors this year there are: Mobius Gallery (Bucharest, RO), Galleri CC (Stockholm, SE), Galeria 9 (Cluj, RO), Galeria 3:e Våningen (Göteborg, SE), Galeria Pilat (Bucharest, RO), Atelier 030202 (Bucharest RO), Kunstart Galerie (Bochum, DE) etc.
Art Safari Kids 2017 Programme, dedicated to children, also comes up with plenty of novelties: guided tours performed by the pupils of Lauder school, workshops for the little ones and their families, where children, parents and grandparents can express their creativity together.
Do not forget: Artist Hanoch Piven (born in 1963, Montevideo, Uruguay) will cross continents to perform two workshops for families on May 19.
Art Dialogue will continue through an ample programme of conferences, book launches, performances and video projections attended by art experts from all over Europe.
Art gallery pavilion
Thursday-Friday & Sunday (12:00-21:00)
Luchian exhibition curated by Wim Waelput, Art Safari Kids; Art Safari Dialogue; The Space
Monday-Friday & Sunday (12:00-21:00)
∗Book a seat at Art Safari with early bird tickets (50% discount): https://www.artsafari.ro/ro/art-safari-2017/
The Romania Journal is supporting Art Safari as media partner.