Interview with Hervé Mikaeloff, curator of the Central Pavilion at Art Safari Bucharest 2018.
I know you have already interacted with Romania, or with the Romanian art&cultural space, when you curated the Romanian Scenes exhibition at the Espace Culturel Louis Vuitton from Paris, in 2013. Give us some insights into the Romanian project you are involved in right now (The Art Safari Bucharest Central Pavilion).
The purpose of the Central Pavilion is to create a platform which brings Romania’s young generation of artists and Romania’s established artists under the same roof, offering them the opportunity to openly and honestly discuss their practice. This platform is meant to raise questions rather than give answers. We are trying to create a connection between the past, present and future, to “draw” a map of the current Romanian creativity scene, without claiming to show it all.
What is the topic of the Central Pavilion in 2018?
I have a bold wish: to create multidisciplinary scenes, where art pieces and artists become like actors and share their visions; on architecture, utopias, savoir faire and memorabilia; with the public, and also the difficulty with which they volunteer to receive or free themselves from the heritage. Mircea Cantor, Șerban Savu, Ciprian Mureșan, Radu Cioca, RăzvanBoar, Ioana Stanca, Arantxa Etcheverria are just a few who will be part of the show.
If we were to compare French and Romanian landscape paintings, do you think they have something in common, something which unites them?
France and Romania have a strong relationship trough art and culture. Constantin Brâncuși, Emil Cioran, Eugen Ionescu are part of both Romanian and French cultures. Artists such as Ion Grigorescu and Mircea Cantor were seen and collected by institutions and private collectors from both countries. On the other hand, I see an emphasis in Romania. Painting is crucial here and it seems, to me at least, that Romanian artists have retained a strong link with their heritage, something which is less relevant in France. This is one of the reasons I wanted to work on this theme for the exhibition and open a discussion between artists.
How do you find the current Romanian art movement? Is it visible abroad?
Unfortunately, Romanian artists are not so visible, except of course for Adrian Ghenie, who had a solo show in prestigious galleries all over the world. But things seem to be changing. Mircea Cantor is also one of the most prestigious Romanian artists. And there are more interesting names, with potential. Ciprian Mureșan and Șerban Savu are beginning to become international references, due to the good work in their gallery, Plan B. For example, Ciprian Mureșan presented a major piece in Unlimited, a few years ago, in Art Basel, one of the most relevant art events worldwide. This kind of demonstration is really important for the public in order to become familiar with artists’ work. The initiative ‘France- Romania Year’ is very productive and will be an extraordinary opportunity for the French public to get a better idea of how creative the Romanian scene is, as numerous exhibitions, as well as films and performances, are going to be organized by the end of 2018.
You have curated major exhibitions all around the world, so you have a general picture of the current culture and art movements. What do you think art represents nowadays? Is it an exclusive emotional experience reserved to the connoisseurs or did it rather migrate to the area of marketing, meaning it is more in the middle of the masses, and rather perceived as a trendy movement which needs ‘checking’ on social media?
We are so familiar with the famous slogan „Art is politics”, but art is also a movement above everything, and this platform stands as an invitation to step into the art process, be part of it, to experience it from the inside through pieces that already exist or pieces that will be designed exclusively for this exhibition. Paintings, installations, drawings and sculptures will highlight many different practices, from embroderies, oil paintings, comics, natural textures and papers – to everyday objects.