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  • Bianca Vinther

"Hic et Nunc Art": Dan Perjovschi, from Line and Horizontal Plane to Column

The artist Dan Perjovschi is irresistibly drawn to big, plane, empty walls. He’s particularly sensitive to political walls, which he likes to tear down with poignant pictograms and words.

Drawings by the Romanian artist Dan Perjovschi on a white wall in the city of Sibiu/Hermannstadt.
"The Horizontal Newspaper" in Sibiu/Hermannstadt by Dan Perjovschi. Courtesy of the artist.

From plain, two-dimensional surfaces within world-class venues like the MoMA NYC and Tate Modern in London, he more recently turned to columns. Not any kind of columns, but the ones of Kassel’s Fridericianum. Yes, Dan Perjovschi is the first artist to ever draw on the portico of the Fridericianum Museum, an iconic symbol of documenta.

From line and plane to column, Dan's literal and symbolic trajectory fascinates me. His personal story, values, social engagement, and resistance are deeply engrained in it. Therefore, I'll be digging below into Dan's relationship to horizontal planes and walls, as well as into his participation in the upcoming documenta 15.

On Saturday, 4 June 2022, I had an amazing one-hour conversation with Dan. You can read here about my first encounter with him. Make sure you don't miss on my upcoming ART TALK with Dan on The Pointless Artist Podcast.

The Horizontal Surface & The Wall Metaphor

Dan was born “in the same year as the Berlin Wall, on the empty side of it”, as he likes to say. He grew up in a walled world, behind the so-called Iron Curtain, on the dark side of the moon, in the city of Sibiu/Hermannstadt in Transylvania, Romania.

As you most likely know, the Iron Curtain wasn’t just a metaphor in Churchill’s speech in Fulton MO, 1946. It was one huge, thick, invisible wall that divided Europe into two big chunks – the free and the imprisoned world. One of its visible parts was the Berlin Wall. Yet there were many more, like the cold, terrifying walls of the Russian Gulag or the Romanian re-education prison in Pitesti, also known as the Pitesti-Experiment.

A wall could take many forms and sizes in Dan's world behind the Iron Curtain, like thin walls for surveillance and thick walls for detention. However, the thickest and highest of all were the walls of fear and mistrust that Dan experienced up close.

After 1989, he began his career in Bucharest as an illustrator and art director for Revista 22, the first independent oppositional weekly. In the world of press, newspapers, and printed drawings, “horizontal” was the watchword.

Since 2010, Dan has been drawing the public art project entitled The Horizontal Newspaper in his hometown Sibiu/Hermannstadt, but the roots of his relationship to horizontal surfaces can be found in the early years of his career in Bucharest (I call it the newspapers' legacy). Take a look at some excellent snapshots here.

I think for Dan, responding to walls is a necessity; he has to animate them, inspire them, climb them, and fill them with his drawings, then tear them down with his poignant words. It’s somehow paradoxical. A love-hate relationship in a way ...