Exhibition curated by Maria Rus Bojan
“Trauma of the Exposed Body” is the first solo exhibition of Ion Grigorescu at Prometeo Gallery‘s premises in Lucca, Italy. The exhibition revisits an important period from his creation, presenting works from the end of the 1970’s – when the artist investigated body issues through self-performative practices -, but also newer works, in which the body plays a central role. Within the recent history of Romanian art, Ion Grigorescu has been one of the first artists who examined the social and cultural significance of body art, providing a new conceptual framework for defining a particular neo-avantgarde that underlines the dramatic shift in the conception of the artistic subject. Embracing a rather particular mix of approaches and spiritual perspectives, Ion Grigorescu practices body art as a mode of transfiguring himself, and as a tool to interrogate the very meaning of his own existence, and also the human condition in general.
“Trauma of the Exposed Body” is an artistic approach that reiterates the idea that the essence of life is inscribed on our body. Referring to the biblical moment when Adam and Eve, having disobeyed God by tasting fruit from the Tree of Knowledge, lose their innocence, becoming suddenly aware of their naked bodies, Grigorescu emphasizes his own trauma caused by the revealing of his nude body in front of divinity. A practicing Christian and an artist who earned his existence by painting orthodox churches, Grigorescu underlines that the biblical sense of nudity indicates man’s spiritual purity and therefore, it is not a sacrilege or an offense to present himself naked in front of God.
The exhibition describes the artist’s struggle to conciliate the fundamental contradiction between his desire of experiencing the nakedness as an expression of primordial spiritual purity and the traumatic acknowledgement of the original sin. Considering that too many layers had covered the spiritual nakedness of this world, Ion Grigorescu has chosen the oldest churches from Lucca, the 10th century Romanic Basilica San Matteo as a background for a spiritual unfolding of his rituals of harmonizing the body and mind. One can perceive this performative approach as ritual of healing and of liberation from all the dogmas and prejudices.
Conceived to work as a single installation, the display alternates projected images referring to Christianity from his 1970’s most famous series of photographic works, such as “Ritual Bath” and “Washing with Light “ with mundane elements such as, “White Wash”, “ Braiding Hair”, “Athletics” or “Box Yoga”, and with a more recent video projection entitled “Start”. The aim is to create the impression of a performative frieze that adds a different layer to the already sacred and charged space of the church.