MIHAI CIPLEA – artworks

6 September - 2 November 2019
The Gothic House - branch of the District Museum in Nowy Sącz


6 September 2019, hour 17:00

Exhibition accompanying the Project 'European Pastel Festival - 7th International Biennial Pastel Exhibition - Nowy Sącz 2018'. The exhibition will be presented in the historical halls of the Gothic House, branch of the District Museum in Nowy Sącz.
Mihai Ciplea is a Romanian artist who belongs to that generation of the 2000s for whom the human figure is the essential element in establishing a relation between art and the outer reality. His searches in this area are transposed into graphic techniques (drawing, engraving, monotyping, dry pastel) and painting. Ciplea studied Graphics at the universities of Cluj-Napoca (2003–2007) and Timișoara (2007–2009); however, his first solo exhibition, held at the Jecza Gallery in Timișoara, consisted of a series of paintings created between 2009 and 2010. The figurative style employed by the artist in these works is not a descriptive one, as it happens with other painters of his generation. Body poses have symbolic connotations; they are engaged in a discourse on the search for self, on the awareness of the human condition between the material and the spiritual. A deep sense of mystery is rendered by the human presence in undefined spaces, by face occultation and by the blurred details when the character is depicted frontally. The subsequent stages of his artistic research have led.

Mihai Ciplea to the use of other techniques for approaching the human figure. Dry pastel and monotypes have helped him obtain unexpected visual effects which increase ambiguity and stimulate the viewer’s intellect. Over the past five years, his creative endeavours have taken shape as a spiritual quest mediated by the artistic process which can be seen as being equivalent to a ritualistic process. The fundamental concept for the artist’s research is the numinous. The numinous effect is evoked through figurative images, created in pastel, that have been put through successive procedures of symbolic purge.

Adopting pastel for making these series of works becomes significant in itself, in the sense of Marshall McLuhan’s statement “the medium is the message”.1 The characteristics of dry pastel, its fragility and tactile malleability, belong to the traditional forms of visual representation, which are in close correlation with sacred rituals. The artist transfers existential significance to this technique. The relation between the spiritual and the biological existence is re-evaluated in terms of colour (the domain of the spiritual) and pigment (the domain of physical existence). In the case of pastels, the persistence of colour would get the chance of eternal existence if the pigment were not so fragile as to disappear after a simple touch. It is exactly this transience that gets exploited most often by the artist. Subject to rubbing out, the pastel reacts immediately. The image loses its accuracy and becomes only a distant suggestion of what it once was (…).

The exhibition housed in Dom Gotycki in Nowy Sącz highlights once more the absolutely original method in which Mihai Ciplea uses the pastel technique. Correlated with the profound motivation behind this technical and aesthetical solution, this method – of rubbing out and redrawing repeatedly – places the artist in a very particular area of contemporary art. His approach corresponds to those trends that revisit traditional techniques – not so much used at present as their popularity was taken over by the new media – and which focus on the conceptual level. To a large extent, the discourse formulated by Mihai Ciplea is about the modern man confronted not with the trivial aspects of everyday life, but rather with himself, with the liberating force his own being can have. Without bluntly asserting any absolute truths, his art creates the premises for asking questions in each of us. And questioning and problematizing are the first steps in the laborious process of finding answers and drawing conclusions. Beyond the image of a bust immersed in darkness, beyond a portrait with closed eyes, beyond some candles lost in the sfumato of pastel layers, there is the thought of the unthinkable, the perception of the imperceptible and the image of the invisible.

Maria Orosan-Telea