'The Answer with No Question'
15 MAY - 11 JULY 2009
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For Cantemir Hausì, questions are usually loaded – whether put forward interrogatively, or requesting an action rather than a true answer with the intent to observe the other person’s desire to comply. Born in 1976 Hausì was raised in a highly politicized home environment that was under surveillance and threat of interrogation from Romania's Communist regime until the revolution of 1989, and his work dwells on themes of uncertainty, and a distrust of stability and ideologies. Hausì’s title for this exhibition ‘The answer with no question’ prompts reflection on the trauma questions can provoke while trying to suggest that there might ultimately be an essential and universal Answer to the collective problems of humanity.
The painting Phantom from the Wardrobe 2008 in which a hazy figure of a child-like apparation is suspended in a suffocatingly domestic interior embodies a period of fear in the artist’s childhood, while symbolic paintings such as Political Hallucination 2009 and Game in a time of peace 2009 refer to more general political realities and stress. Other works such as Camp 2009 and Winter 2008 refer to Hausì’s memories of those conversely idyllic aspects of his childhood in Baia Mare, a town in the mountainous and remote region north of Transylvania where old traditions survive. There is a longing for a community that remains in touch with its identity, unlike much of modern Romania after its massive displacement of peoples over the last half century.
Nature is a recurring theme, whether the monolithic nobility of a Kestrel that Hausì cared for in his studio after finding it injured, or the solidity that a tree represents in Can you cut this tree? 2008. These symbols for moral cleanliness are juxtaposed in Hausì’s paintings with a world that can be a far darker place. The dogs represented in Hausi’s paintings often have the recognizable profile of a Borzoi, a link to the Communist revolution when large numbers of this aristocratic breed were massacred as a reaction to all things feudal. The painting Memory from My Childhood 2009 recalls the day a Borzoi wandered into the block of workers’ apartments where he lived as a child – the stark disjunction of this creature with its surroundings has remained a significant memory. In the work entitled Tank covered in volcanic ash 2008, a tank is represented under a murky body of brown paint - the most powerful military might of our society is defeated by the force of God through Nature, a civilizing force taming a savage humanity.
Through Hausi’s paintings we are disoriented with reversals of perspective. Humanity is made smaller while Nature becomes larger, and amidst the awe and wonder of the Natural world childish games and sporting pursuits are never very far away from the possibility of real violence. A soldier and his gun scurry in the foreground while a man leisurely tees up at the golfing green. A gun is put aside while a chicken leg is greedily enjoyed.
Hausì’s work embodies an inner struggle and tension between innocence and disillusion: “I'm still trying to see this world as a child sees it: immense and beautiful; as if for the first time, and not as how the mass of people see it, ugly and full of bitterness.”
Cantemir Hausì (b. 1976, Romania) lives and works in Cluj, Romania. This will be his first solo show timed to coincide with his inclusion in his first major international group exhibition, the Prague Biennale 4 (May 14 – July 26 2009), to be followed by a solo exhibition at Plan B, Cluj later this year.