press release

Haunch of Venison is delighted to present this first group show of artists from Cluj, a small city located in the heart of Transylvania, Romania. Mircea Cantor, Adrian Ghenie, Victor Man, Ciprian Muresan, Cristi Pogacean, Serban Savu and Gabriela Vanga all trained at the Art Academy in Cluj. Intriguingly, it was not the school that forged a connection between the artists, but a shared desire to flee the institution, to negotiate a position in relation to the world following childhoods rooted in communism and adolescences spent witnessing its disintegration, and a playing out of the cycle of going out from and returning to Cluj.

Cluj comes from the Latin word ‘Clusum’ meaning ‘closed’ and is surrounded by hills and mountains. As a possible long-term consequence of its geographical situation and ancient past, the city is not well known outside of Romania, yet it is situated at the crossroads of some of Europe’s most historically important thoroughfares. Like a forgotten child, Cluj has quietly witnessed the arrival and departure of the Roman, Ottoman and Austro-Hungarian empires, communism, and been the focal point of a persistent tension between the Hungarians (to whom Transylvania used to belong), and the Romanians.

Perhaps it is unsurprising then that the artists in this exhibition make work that demonstrates a removed, often voyeuristic or sideways glance at the ideologies, political systems and expectations that constrain the individual and effect change in our world. Though there is consistency in terms of an angle of observation, the explicitness of the artists’ engagement with the subject matter varies greatly, as does the formal nature of their work. Mircea Cantor, Ciprian Muresan, Gabriela Vanga and Cristi Pogacean’s practices are not confined to a specific medium and elide any one, simplistic over-arching definition. Cantor is probably best known for his works in video, but he also creates installations and has worked with objects in fragile materials such as crystal. Muresan’s work includes videos, drawings - sometimes in preparation for his surreal animations - and installations. Vanga’s often subtle approach has led to her painting a wall with a liquid that can only be seen when ‘activated’ by touch, and Pogacean’s work has taken the disparate forms of video, jewellery, carpets and flags. Adrian Ghenie and Serban Savu are committed to the activity of figurative painting. Victor Man is also principally a painter, although his practice incorporates wall drawings, photographs and found objects to form assemblages.

There are seven distinct voices in this show, but each artist makes work that brims with a certain hunger and edginess. They are young, and though some have begun to establish international careers in the art world, most are newly emerging onto the scene. For the majority of people, this exhibition at Haunch of Venison will be an introduction to what is happening in Cluj - but we hope it is the beginning of a long acquaintance with its remarkable artists.

Cluj Connection was conceived and curated by Jane Neal and made possible thanks to Juerg Jurdin, Haunch of Venison Zürich and Mihai Pop, artist/curator of Plan B Gallery, Cluj.


only in german

Cluj Connection
Kuratoren: Jane Neal, Juerg Jurdin, Mihai Pop

mit Mircea Cantor, Adrian Ghenie, Victor Man , Ciprian Muresan, Cristi Pogacean, Serban Savu, Gabriela Vanga ...