All Images from a Book on Holbein
graphite on paper
21 3/16 x 32 1/8 in
53.8 x 81.6 cm
signed and dated in graphite at lower right recto
All Images from a Book…
March 30 – May 6, 2017
Opening reception: Thursday, March 30, 6-8pm
David Nolan Gallery is pleased to announce All Images from a Book…, an exhibition of new work by Ciprian Mureşan, the artist’s second solo show with the gallery. Bringing together a thematically interrelated group of works – albeit in characteristically diverse media – the exhibition will include a suite of recent drawings, a floor-bound sculpture, and a wall-mounted brass relief.
Mureşan (b. 1977, Romania) is best known for his subtly subversive and darkly humorous work often touching on the failed ideals in the aftermath of Communist rule in Eastern Europe. In recent years, his conceptually oriented practice has involved drawing, printmaking, video, found-object sculpture and puppetry performance. In his newest body of work, the artist takes on the highly charged topic of artistic reproduction. For Mureşan, the arena of reproduction is of particular significance, as it was through the study of printed copies of historical artworks – as opposed to first-hand encounters with the originals – that he resolved to become an artist. Moreover, in Romanian art schools the meticulous copying of classic paintings and sculptures remains at the cornerstone of an artistic education.
In a group of seven new works on paper, the artist continues his series of “Palimpsest” drawings, started in 2013, wherein every image from a given book or magazine is hand-rendered (with the aid of a light box) in overlapping layers of graphite pencil onto a single sheet of paper. One such drawing, All Images from a Book on Holbein (2017), comprises images from a monograph on the 16th century portraitist, Hans Holbein the Younger. On close inspection, intermittently decipherable images of famous historical figures come in and out of focus. Mureşan’s approach to replication, however, is distinctly different from classic appropriation art, and has more in common with the musical practice of remixing – while certain elements are recycled, the end-product has an uncanny, diffuse relationship to its source material.
Referencing major art historical figures such as Holbein (and elsewhere, Lucas Cranach), Mureşan offers up a universal paradigm of canonical Western art history. In another group of drawings, the artist distills images from various December 2016 issues of art magazines. By switching his source, he shifts his perspectives in thinking about art. Choosing art magazines – which deal primarily in art world news, criticism, all interspersed with the ever-important advertisements – Mureşan realigns his discussion into one about the contemporary reception of art and how art (and in particular recent art) is inexplicably bound to a complex network of key players and institutions.
Echoing the formal imagery found in the “Palimpsest” drawings, a six-and-a-half foot wide wall-mounted brass relief contains (etched into its surface) various images from past exhibitions that have contained Mureşan’s work at David Nolan Gallery. Comprising engraved reproductions of installation views, video stills, and close-ups of artworks, the work introduces a self-referential element, or a concise personal survey in a manner reminiscent of Duchamp's Boîte-en-valise.
Following a site-specific installation at the Museum of Art in Cluj, Romania, initiated in 2012, Mureşan made a series of plaster copies of sculptures contained in the museum’s permanent collection. Lying on the floor of the gallery of the present exhibition is a composite sculpture made from the fragments of leftover negatives from the plaster casts. Once again invoking the complex history of reproduction, the artist reactivates anatomical forms found in the cultural context of his local museum, and in this lifeless resin form Mureşan offers a fleeting glimpse into his own earliest experiences of art.
Work by the artist can be found in public collections worldwide, including Centre Georges Pompidou, Paris; Ludwig Museum, Budapest; San Francisco Museum of Modern Art; and Tate Gallery, London. Mureşan was recently selected to participate in VIVA ARTE VIVA, the 57th edition of the Venice Biennale exhibition, curated by Christine Macel (Chief Curator, Centre Pompidou, Paris) and is the recipient of the 2017 Drawing Prize awarded by the Daniel and Florence Guerlain Contemporary Art Foundation. Concurrent to his exhibition at David Nolan Gallery, Muresan is also participating in the first ever edition of the Kathmandu Triennale in Nepal.
We’re so vain, how could we resist this painstakingly produced drawing of an entire issue of ARTnews all on one sheet of paper with each page of the magazine reproduced atop the last to create a dense palimpsest?
It is the work of the Romanian artist Ciprian Muresan, who said in an email: The drawing is part of a series of five works, each taking as a starting point various art magazines issued in December 2016: ARTnews, Art Papers, Frieze, Art in America, and Afterall. All images reproduced in each magazine are rendered on a single sheet of paper in overlapping layers. Accumulating and superimposing the images is a destructive act, at the same time preserving the ‘identity’ of the magazine. By choosing magazines issued at the same time, my intention was to provoke a sort of a comparison of accumulation – as you might compare the ‘ashes’ or the chaos created by superimposition.