Proletarians of the world, surreal-ize yourselves!

As it seems, this last decade may be called – with no shade of publicity rhetoric – “The decade of all possibilities (in art)”.  Many exhibitions, big or small, from the entire world, assert this: the most diverse tendencies, styles, streams of 20th century’s art make room for themselves with the same “candour” (theoretical) commentary: so, postmodern strategies: fragmentation, (destructive) resort to the (recent) history of art, coexistence of languages, the same chances for all the attitudes etc.


No wonder, thus, that we notice the resort of a 90’s artist to the surrealist forms and visual strategies.


NAME: Laura Covaci

FAVOURITE LANGUAGES: painting, drawing (but also installation)

Fine record: a good one, many exhibitions in Romania and abroad (for example, a personal one in Brussels in 1993, entitled “Die Markten” and works exhibited in Trinity Gallery – Atlanta, Georgia, 1999-2000). Laura Covaci’s painting feeds itself both from the surrealism’s bag and from the German expressionism’s – the Neue Sachlichkeit type – one, but in her works’ “biography” there are also famous and unique ancestors: Chagall, Leger, Brauner, Corneille. Since some years ago, Laura Covaci works for a long series of paintings  and drawings meaningfully called “Proletarian Surrealism” (!).


  1. Surrealism: in this case, the “automatic dictation”, the “purely psychic automatism” that is theoretical props of the “historical” surrealism, are out of the question. Everything in this landscape is a radiography of the actual society which, as it looks, cannot be but surrealist. Choosing this attitude, Laura Covaci does not want to repeat a rebellious gesture (as in those old times). The surrealism, here, at our place, is simply given to us (says the artist), it naturally and wildly grows up around us. “Well, here the dream – the nightmare, better said – was something quite common, I mean everything was upside down. When you went to bed you used to pray to remain like that, laid in bed, in your dream and not wake up any more. Once woken up by the tram, the security or the clock, the reality slapped over your eyes so tough that made you see stars, and then you must work or die or paint. I still paint people eating those fish made of glass and nudists with a breast on one shoulder sucking the Black Sea into their pure and blue eye”, or: “There are many peasants, whores, workers wearing foolscaps and hooters”. “Cool” (Extract of the “Interview with a kitten about proletarian nights”, critical autotext).
  2. Proletarian: the Romanian environmental reality reached this high degree of surrealism because of the “proletarization” of the society under the terrible and decayed grin of the communism. That is why the release of the surrealism means a gesture that translates the reclusion from a too politicized context, sullied and smeared by Bucharest Marxism. Although the topic of this artist’s painting was the outcome of an ended political situation, the dates of our nowadays reality justifies, hence, the ongoing of this theme. “Till when?!!” Beyond the surrealist aspect of the Laura Covaci’s painting – that may seem out-dated from those who look at it only from the perspective of a strict present but, still, an appeal ing and conceivably justified surrealism – the grotesque make itself room in most of her works. A grotesque haunted by the shadows of this genre’s big bosses: Otto Dix and Georg Grosz, reaching sometimes a “soft” and Balkanic kitsch traced on the cynical and sarcastic nature of the artist.And to force even more the irony and the humour, the paintress swings the image towards a too naive zone, having sometimes features of a circus’ painting.

When the artist resorts to the drawing, although the “tone” is the same, although the surrealist register does not change, the image is rapidly worked out, the lines are powerful, the definition of the image is very clear, often excluding the well studied model of the paintings. The drawings play both the roles of sketch and of independent works: a fascinating diary with drawings (strictly specifying the day and year) fill entire notebooks, folders and portofolios. One more thing: the titles, extremely explicit for what happens in the image, are stated, of course, also using the ironic and surrealist register: “The toy revolution”, “Olympia”, “”Lunch on the grass” (as Manet), “Two women workers visiting the art museum” etc.


There is no climax because this “Proletarian surrealism” of Laura Covaci’s art goes on naturally, unhinderedly flows forward caried on by the vehicle of the mentalities that populates and colours the actual Romanian society. Thus, till this premise is out, the theme goes on!


Neither can this exist, once there is no climax. But we may find denouements in every work, as a solution/way out/answer to the aberrant stimuli of a distorted reality.


So, for the moment, just follow the urge of the title!