The title of his exhibition caught my attention.
In a relationship to the opening of his first solo show in Stockholm, I was curios to learn more about the Romanian artist, Remus Grecu. The man who — as he self defines it — represents through his art some of the outcasts in our society. I mailed him a few questions and I am proud to say that he didn’t lack a clever answer. Read through it! and if you feel like discussing any of the answers further with the artist, be sure you show up at the opening at Berns Asiatiska, tomorrow (Wednesday) at 16.30
Tell us about your upcoming exhibition at Berns. Why “Criminal insides”?
“Criminal insides” — firstly because the subject is about criminals (murders, rapists, etc) and insides because it is much about the inner psychic of a criminal rather than the simple physical presence of it. I choose to draw portraits of criminals because to me, they represent the image of the outcasts. As an artist I relate myself somehow to such people, in the matter of not considering myself — more or less — as being part to any of the societies.
Before the image of the criminal itself I have taken as starting point the understanding of the cause and the effect of a crime … What is in fact a crime?! … A temptation what ends up badly, a sin or is just an unaccountable sickness?! I find it very interesting, the mysterious chemistry of such subject, in fact I’m attracted of the dark side of human mind, the psychology and philosophy of it, how this begins and dies within the human brain. Since our societies are made to exist under strict rules where everything is tried to be placed on the right spot, I find the criminal phenomena as being the chaotic side of such world. And this attracts me the most — the braking point of these rules — the darkness and often incomprehensible part of our world.
What kind of relationship do you have to your motives? How are they different from your relationship to the final pieces?
I do things that attract me the most, things that I relate myself with and which I believe in. I have made portraits of criminals, drawn obese and mentally ill people because I relate myself to them in the way of being an outcast and living on the edge of the society. In fact they are the metaphors of my own person. I’m not a criminal in the active way but inside of me I feel like one of them. I’m not an obese but I live an almost secluded life, like many of the obese people do because of their handicaps. I’m almost always looking for the weak, for the disadvantaged subjects. I have a protesting activist view in the favor of the weak or disadvantaged subjects and so this is why I work with these themes, because this is more or less me.
In fact, an obese and (most of the time) a criminal are for me the victims of the people who posses the power over the masses, the ones that deliver the information. Indeed a crime can be explained as a pathological reality but still how does it grow and exist inside the human mind?! It’s a long existential process between the “power” and the victim and I’m not going to explain it now but I can say that many things I see and understand every day makes me to believe we live in a world of slavishly stupidity in which people fight very little for their rights to exist. I believe in some kind of equality not in the communist way but in the ethical sense and so most of my work is close to some kind of fight for the right to exist. I think we live more and more a sad reality under the power of big international corporations what coerce the freedom of people, like for example banks.
As an artist I feel very much as being an activist towards the inequity within the societies. I’m tired to see pathetic esthetically and not even beautifully made pieces of so-called art. I think beauty and ugliness in art is forever dead. As long as the history of art is full of amazingly beautifully made paintings, I don’t see the point to make anymore art in the esthetically sense only. I wonder where is the point and the place for such art?! Maybe they are good to match the color of the couch or the floor but nothing else. I think art today should have a wider view and a very strong meaning. Anyhow I think I departed a bit from the question, I hope though I have made me self clear towards the relationship with my motives.
Would you say your art is defined as serious? If so, how so?
As we all know art is one of the most subjective and complex reality to be explained. Who decides if art is serious or not?! In fact, what means to be serious or not in art?! I don’t have to many opinions from other people towards my work, so I can’t say how serious or not my art come across to others. I can say though that for me it is a total belief and this is the most important thing to be able to exist as an artist, to believe in what you do. The rest comes after it, people like it or not, take it serious or not. I can’t decide for others beliefs and taste.
Art — like anything else — is in the end just a taste, you can’t force someone to like a film by Sergei Parajanov or to convince somebody that Dante Alighieri is indeed one of the biggest poets of all times. I do know though that sadly art is most of the time just a tool in the hands of powerful and influential people, and so they are to be the ones to decide if an artist makes or doesn’t make some serious art. I so often see it in notorious Art Galleries — pieces of brainless so-called art but I suppose that is considered serious art as long as it is shown in such places.
As an artist you are not considered as being “serious” as long as you hang around with “little people” but once you have an influential person behind you — you got a quite good chance to be shown to the biggest masses and become a star or a so-called “serious” artist, only over a night.
Some say you are a technical genius. What kind of techniques/material do you use to create your work?
“Technique genius”! I have so many problems when it comes to such matter that I can’t even consider me self as being good, but to be considered a genius in this way, I still have a long, long way to go. It is funny though because I’ve heard this before from some other people too. I just think being a “technical genius” is more a matter of comparisons to other artists.
And for me, it is not too much of a comparison. I use probably the most simple and basic materials for my work, for the paintings I use oil on linen and for the drawings I use pencils and nowadays, charcoal on paper. So, there isn’t so much to explain or say about it.
Despite your technical masters, I am more interested in the topic of your work. What would you say is your biggest inspiration?
My biggest inspiration?! I don’t know, maybe it is the day by day experience of the secluded life I live, it is more like creating what my demons tell me to. I can say I read quite a lot, mainly alternative press and I like to sum up information all the time about people, situations, etc … I also watch films, almost everyday but not the shitty Hollywood things, I watch “real alive” films. I don’t know if I would say I have a real inspiration like a visual artist, a writer or so. I do indeed appreciate some artists. Like for example; Mathew Barney and Do Ho Suh. I also can say that Tarkovsky is in my opinion indeed what people call it a “genius”.
On the other hand I don’t have a real inspirational relationship with his amazing work, it is more that I respect and appreciate endlessly what he did in his rather short life. For me he is an inspiration in the matter of being immortal. Otherwise the political and psychosocial day by day events is my main and real inspiration.
With that in mind, what are your favorite themes/subjects to illustrate?
The themes I choose are definitely connected to the image of the man. I do believe people are the most complex creatures in the world, therefore everything that is related to us and our physical presence, is the hardest and the most interesting thing to be represented in art. I try as much possible to create imagines of people in political or “dark” social involvements. I am not attracted in people as much as a physical appearance. I like the world that can be created within the existence of the man. I’m interested to create images of certain situation connected to us. I also use sometime the image of animals as metaphors for human beings.
For the moment I make a series of drawings with a quite dark base underneath. They are images that represent our relationship to the death, dehumanization, false information etc … In fact each of the latest drawings I made has its own story as this time I didn’t want to make a large series of art works that has the same base. That’s why I like the drawings with the criminals.
Photographs belong to Remus Grecu
And last but not least. You are born and raised in Romania. Why Stockholm?
It’s a short long story. From the beginning it wasn’t meant to be Stockholm, I thought I would live the rest of me life in London, town in which in fact I used to live for four or five years. After those — mainly hectic — years of living in London, I just felt I had to leave that town and find a more peaceful place to live. And so here comes Stockholm with its peace and long and dark winter, which by the way I love and I find very inspiring.
For me when producing art, I need a quite town to live in, without ‘revolutions’ and big ‘energetically fluctuation’. I make my own restless world myself and so I don’t need to have that kind of world around me too. And Stockholm is the perfect place when it comes to this.
Vernissage: 14th of March 2012
Time: 16.30 – 18.30
Place: Berns Asiatiska, Berzelii Park, Stockholm