Chung King Project is delighted to present "Time Will Tell", a series of new work by Marius Bercea. The young Romanian painter who currently lives and works in the city of his birth, Cluj-Napoca (capital city of the province of Transylvania), caught the European art world's imagination with his series of vivacious, Naples-yellow paintings whose subjects derive from what the artist describes as an 'intensely personal archive'. Like these earlier paintings, this current body of work owes its genesis to images sourced from family photographs, newspaper clippings and personal memories of growing up. Yet, unlike the earlier paintings that succeeded in evoking the happiness found in the kind of simple moments of childhood pleasure that transcend geographical and political boundaries and provoke nostalgia among adults everywhere: fondly remembered games, school trips and public holidays, Bercea's new works tend instead towards the engendering of unease and discomfort. We are presented with dreams that will never be realised, hopes that have failed to be fulfilled and scenes such as abandoned amusement parks once intended for children that have become the haunts of the disturbed, the lonely and the dispossessed.
Yet while Bercea's earlier works may have seemed to be all sunshine on initial reading, as the series evolved, they began to provoke some sinister questions of their own: Why was the sky always that peculiar shade of yellow - and why everything so brilliantly, acidly illuminated? The answer is far from innocent - Romania borders the Ukraine and many people in Romania believe the yellow cloud that accompanied the Chernobyl disaster impacted far more on the health of their youngsters than was 'officially' allowed to be communicated to them.
Bercea began his journey into the exploration of the familial archive by questioning the authenticity of the perfect sunlit childhood memory that the photograph boasts of and the painting (invested with a chromatic register inspired by a nuclear fall out) can claim to be a lie. In this new body of work he presents at Chung King, he refuses to give us an easy time - it's not possible to simply look fondly on the scenes he presents to us - but we can wonder at how Bercea succeeds in breathing pathos and beauty into the banality of the lives he draws for us, at how he elicits tenderness from us for his subjects; and at his brave decision (demonstrated with often determinedly sketchy brushwork), to refuse to prettify or polish his paintings - instead leaving them raw, edgy and somehow fittingly naive.
Marius Bercea was born in 1979 and has already widely shown in various places in Europe, including Plan B, Cluj, and Eleven Fine Art, London. This exhibition will be his first in the United States.
Marius Bercea Black Seas Heights, 2008 Oil on canvas, 220 x 160 cm Courtesy of Chung King Project, Los Angeles
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