"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.
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 ...
Drawing on a wall is an act of courage, of social participation, and of freedom of expression (think of the iconic murals on the other side of the Berlin Wall). And it's just as courageous and bold today as it was back then.
Corona, pandemics, lockdowns, harsh restrictions, isolation, solitude, alienation, total breakups of social bonds, and so much pain, anguish, and grief are all embodied in the metaphor of the wall.
Dan raises his powerful voice against this background: the voice of consciousness and social change; the voice of many who say: together we are stronger. Together we can and we will change this world.
In 2022 Dan performed a somersault. From wall to column and from plane to three-dimensional. He moved on the portico of Kassel’s Fridericianum.
Columns are structural elements in architecture. They stand vertical and firm, frequently carrying beams or arches, on which the upper parts of walls and ceilings rest. There’s something magnificent and majestic about columns: they symbolize strength, endurance, and resistance, but they also embody tradition: they're conservative, almost old-fashioned, and often a symbol of imperial power.
The opening of documenta 15 and inauguration of Dan's "Generosity, Regeneration, Transparency, Independence, Sufficiency, Local Anchor, and, most of all, Humour"! will take place on 18 June 2022. Save the date in your calendar!
The Paradigm Shift: Collective Hic et Nunc Art
The act of covering an imposing 18th-century imperial building in black and drawing upon it pictograms and messages calling, in 2002, for #peace, #sustainability, and #support among other hyper relevant things, is a powerful sign of time, which marks a paradigm shift not only in the field of arts but also in society as a whole.
Documenta 15 and the Indonesian collective Ruangrupa promote a new vision of art. From “edle Kunst” (opulent, valuable, expensive art) to “kollektive Kunst in hic et nunc”/ "Collective Hic et Nunc Art or Collective Art in the Here and Now" I'd say, that is off-the-cuff, direct, immediate, poignant, socially-engaged, and up to date. Dan's revamped portico of Kassel's Fridericianum is the foreword to this collective movement.
It's an inclusive form of art that represents the voice of many; collective but signed by just one person – Dan Perjovschi. An ephemeral, transitory form of art, impactful and sustainable at the same time, on both a literal and figurative level.
Dan operates between metaphors. His art has heavy symbols and light expressions – lines, forms, and words reduced to the essential. A sign of time that sparks new possibilities!
“Pleasure disappoints, possibility never. And what wine is so sparkling, what so fragrant, what so intoxicating, as possibility!” (Søren Kirkegaard)
Watch for my upcoming interview with Dan Perjovschi on The Pointless Artist Podcast.
Via The Pointless Artist Blog and Podcast, I support the creative energy of life and the artists who contribute to transforming this world into a freer, kinder, more inclusive, caring, transparent, and compassionate place to live. I firmly believe in the passion for art, the importance of sharing knowledge and experiences, and the power of personal stories to bring us together.
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Recognise your pointlessness and keep creating!
From Germany with love,
#documentafifteen #ziarulorizontal #horizontalnewspaper #danperjovschi #lumbungartist #sociallyengagedart #drawinginstallations #offthecuffdrawings #offthecuffart #sibiu #hermannstadt #hicetnuncart #kunstinhicetnunc #berlinwall #changetheworld #inclusiveart #collectiveart