Four Romanian artists at Plymouth’s Peninsula Arts Gallery investigate identity, civilization, sexual politics

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For the first time in the UK the work of four of Romania’s leading artists can be seen at Plymouth University. The show, presented in conjunction with the Romanian Cultural Institute, is part of a month-long Romanian festival at the university and showcases the work of Anca Boeriu, Florica Prevenda, Alexandru Radvan and Florin Stoiciu.

Particularly striking are the works by Boeriu, which concentrate the viewer on the shapes created by and between the figures pictured. The Point of Balance series of paintings present impossibly-twisted bodies – the intense purple-red colour featured in the artwork contributing to the feeling of tension within the image.

Continuing her exploration of body dynamics, Boeriu uses the Couples artworks to highlight the distance between two apparently connected people. In one, figures are drawn looking towards each other. Closer inspection, however, reveals that they are gazing into different spaces, the exaggerated arm-length of one of the figures further accentuating the chasm, (coloured bright red) that lies between them.

Using more shocking imagery, Radvan uses his art to question the idea of truth. In one thought-provoking image he turns the myth of the Minotaur on its head, portraying the beast bound, helpless and presumably in agony with a hoof nailed to the floor – the fearsome adversary of Theseus turned into a character worthy of pity. By displaying the Minotaur’s side of the story, Radvan seeks to challenge notions of western civilization.

Printmaker Stoiciu’s pieces illustrate his experimental, postmodernist style which ranges from the abstract, dynamic forms featured in Masque 7 to the more traditional, exquisitely-detailed Shakespeare’s Sonnets.

Themes of identity are tackled in Prevenda’s work. In Shadows of the Present she layers words and images taken from the media with material and paint to create new identities – these grey, shadowy bodies emerging uncertainly from her work. Prevenda’s attempt to recapture the identities she has abandoned along the way is portrayed in Time Regained, intriguing collages of camera-based images and materials which she describes as: ‘…the me-fragmented in dissolution which could exist only by its reconstitution’.

The artists’ work is also featured in the first four books in the ‘20 Romanian Writers’ series of books recently published by University of Plymouth Press.

The exhibition at Peninsula Arts Gallery runs until Saturday, December 19.

Heather Smith

After years in denial, Heather Smith has finally conceded that she is a writer, willing to exchange the products of many hours of blood, sweat and crossing-out for the chance of being published.In addition to PRSD and Art+Culture she has written for Art Cornwall, iwalkdevon and Behind the Spin. She also blogged about her life as a mature student on Later Study. In her spare time she enjoys watching her bantams think up new ways of destroying her veg patch, camera-less photography and making jewellery with found objects. Her ambition is to become a mad old woman and own an alpaca called Gerald.