:: Reviews ::

...I do not label Ruxandra Papa as a surrealist despite the apparent features of her painting. In order to understand the meanings enacted by her clear cut construction art, with inconspicuous shapes, minutely and precisely welcomed in a space which is itself objectified by the intricate description, one must go beyond the stereotype linking this support of figurativeness and painting technique as it was expressed in the modern age by the surrealists. By the same token, we should recognize the indications of object reference as a symbolic whole, separating her from the cliches of representation in hyperrealism. This is why, as I was saying, these things point to a tradition preceding modernism, restoring to the present the functions of still life using the object as a support for meditation, as a departure point towards a reality which is manifest in the most simple things – a cup, a set of shapely pots, with evocatively archaic figures, with no other utility other than that of examination, a draped cloth, an element of architecture marking either the separation or the communication of two spaces. We may observe the joining technique which implies the sacred without resorting to the emblematic signs imposing it, the techniques which bestow so much charm upon the Flemish still lives of the 17 th century or so much metaphysical realism upon Spanish painting, such as in the case of Zurbarán. In the same context we may also refer to Caravaggio's famous "fruit basket". It is a direction in which the common object, the daily experience, invested with the intensity of immediacy, in a light which is at its turn invested with the meaning of indicating a different relationship, is used to trigger the viewer's attention and make him concentrate on this special presence. It is a direction linking every day life to the sacred and turning common actions into ritual.
This referential background is indicated in different manners in the works of Ruxandra Papa. Surrealism is only indicated as a reference through stylistic similarities, but it is separated by the semantic level enacted by the obviously different focuses on certain situations, by the decontextualization and recontextualization of these isolated realities. Flemish art is brought to mind by the direct quotation, as practiced by the surrealists as well, actually, of certain elements: the pattern of floors, the richness of the draping, the arches, the spatial vastness, that precise, almost conceptual transparency of Italian art, so very different from the fluidity of the infinite Northern spaces. A different level of functioning of the sign–objects in her painting is that of an ambiguous symbolism, a relaxation of the signifying chain, the actual chain of referential mediations between the sign-object, the sign-figure, the sign-space etc. and the meaning occulted by all of these indicated references. We can connect her painting which plays out so frankly the game between the formal obviousness and the mysterious significance to metaphysical painting, to fantastic realism, to the fantastic elements to be encountered in the art of De Chirico, singled out in Dan Haulica's 1986 text. Just like other gestures of postmodern art, Ruxandra Papa's attempt places artistic image in the larger series of cultural objects tending to condense the cultural meaning as much as possible, subscribing to a semantic core they bring out through the very act of protecting it by means of their playful juxtapositions, either manifest or formal, in the finite shape of an exhibition painting.

Ruxandra Papa

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