Path Over The Water
“From Behind the Veil”
In Claudiu Presecan’s recent series of paintings and drawings, Path over The Water, his investigation into how gesture is translated into visual imagery continues. Using a variety of methods of applying pigments—pouring, dripping, smearing, dropping, erasing—this series walks an edge between figuration and abstraction. Inspired by the vast Danube Delta which transverses his native Romania with its lagoons, reeds, hidden recesses, and isolated villages this art speaks to movement, change and, in a poetic way, to continuity. This work does not, however, portray a specific landscape; rather it speaks to an experience that transcends place and time.
During the communist regime in Romania, which ended in 1989, reeds from the delta were extensively, and determinately, harvested with the goal of transforming the delta into a large agro-industrial zone. The reed, in Presecan’s previous series, Traces of Water, is a symbol of the individual, freedom, and resistance, essentially a life force that perseveres. In his current work, the imagery of the reed becomes more and more abstracted leaving in its wake a trace, a quivering, of its being. Movement replaces figuration and form occupies space much as dancers move through their bodies as they alter, momentarily, their surroundings. For Presecan landscape is, in ways, a metaphor for inner psychological and spiritual states that are given structure and certain permanence through the physicality of painting.
Presecan refers to a “water universe“ in which our inner world blends often seamlessly with the external landscape. Water, in the work of Presecan, is symbolic of a vastness that is simultaneously, and continually, revealing a micro and macro universe. It is interesting to note that the human body is approximately 60% water (at birth it is closer to 75% but diminishes with age). In utereo, we all evolved within amniotic fluid that the developing fetus inhales and then exhales throughout the pregnancy. We are, then, in a very real sense formed by, and of, water. Water is thus not only essential to our initial and continuing existence, we are literally containers for large amounts of water. Much like a river forms a path for water to transverse through our bodies are nourished and sustained by paths of water.
In the oil painting, “Path over Lake (120cm x 50cm) 2010,” the viewer is confronted not so much by a place as by a fleeting moment. It is as if a small section of an environment is zoomed in on, forming an almost microscopic rendering, or cross-section. And by so doing a peeling away of layers occurs, revealing an abstract combination of colors, shapes, and lines in a highly energized state, recalling that all matter consist of molecules which are never completely static, but always moving. A diffuse blue, green background is interspersed with floating yellow cell-like shapes and horizontal red lines that transverse the surface, suggesting power and vitality more than violence or a ripping apart.
“Path over Lake,” is a large horizontal painting and in its’ shape and size recalls Chinese scroll painting. In this type of painting, which stretches back many centuries, a narrative, or story, inspired usually by a landscape, is presented. Presecan’s use of line, too, has a calligraphic quality to it, a mysterious language that seems to spring from an ancient and forgotten civilization.
The pastel drawings in this exhibition are all titled Delta and numbered. Unlike his paintings, in which color is prominent, these drawings are primarily created with black pastel. Delta <22 was influenced by a recent boat trip the artist took down the Danube Delta to Salina, Romania. This remote town can only be reached by water or by hiking. Cruising on the Danube through undeveloped countryside there is a timeless quality to the landscape and to the Romania it reflects. In this drawing, which is more representational then others exhibited, the perspective is of traveling down the center of the river. As always in Presecan’s work, movement and motion is emphasized and examined as are lines between abstraction and figuation. Black circular abstract forms pave the way though the water and cascade throughout trees and float into the sky. These simple shapes order and unify the space, like dancers. The mood created is in many aspects one of religious or spiritual contemplation, encouraging a “freedom of the spirit,” a vision that links together all of Presecan’s oeuvre.