• Record
  • Reality
  • Learn
  • Poetics
  • Transfer

24 Arguments. Early Encounters in Romanian Neo-Avant-Garde 1969–1971

The National Museum of Art of Romania

24 Arguments
Early Encounters in Romanian Neo-Avant-Garde 1969–1971


Opening: Thursday, November 7, 2019, 18:00

The National Museum of Art of Romania
National Gallery wing, ground floor
Calea Victoriei 49–53, București

Visiting hours: WED–SUN, 10:00–18:00
last entry: 17:00

Horia Bernea, Ion Bitzan, Liviu Ciulei, Radu Dragomirescu, Șerban Epure, Pavel Ilie, Ritzi Jacobi, Peter Jacobi, Ovidiu Maitec, Paul Neagu, Miriam Răducanu, Diet Sayler, Radu Stoica, Vladimir Șetran, Grupul Sigma

The Institute of the Present and the National Museum of Art of Romania open the exhibition 24 Arguments. Early Encounters in Romanian Neo-Avant-Garde 1969–1971. This is the first event of a cycle conceived by the Institute of the Present and dedicated to the visual and performing arts of the 1960s and 1970s in Romania. Proposing a new working format, that of the exhibition-file, 24 Arguments. Early Encounters in Romanian Neo-Avant-Garde 1969–1971 emerged from a research conducted in the Demarco archives from Edinburghm which reveals, in hindsight, the presence in the local field of art of a series of forgotten narratives, some fragmented, other impossible to reassemble in their original temporal flow. Such narratives have, however, the capacity to evoke the existence of certain discontinuities in the apparently homogenous structure of the cultural landscape of the time, of certain trans-national contact areas not only with the West, but also with other Socialist worlds.

Starting from the interest manifested by the Scottish promoter Richard Demarco in establishing a dialogue with the artistic milieus of Eastern Europe, initiated with the opening in October 1967, at the Demarco Gallery, of the first exhibition dedicated to art from the region, 16 Polish Painters and, particularly, with Romania, on his first visit from September 1968, the exhibition centres upon a moment in time when history seemed to change its course and which, unexpectedly, locates, at regional and international level, the experiences of Romanian Neo-Avant-Garde at the late 1960s and the early 1970s. The benchmarks are provided by the 1969 exhibition 4 Romanian Artists (Ion Bitzan, Ritzi Jacobi, Peter Jacobi, Paul Neagu), which travelled from Bauzentrum Hamburg to the Demarco Gallery, and by the 1971 exhibition Romanian Art Today, presented as part of the Edinburgh International Festival, designed in association with events that featured the most recent tendecies in Romanian theatre, poetry and dance.

The brief, but intense, history of the encounters between the Romanian art and the Richard Demarco Gallery projects, in a wider analysis of the local artistic phenomenon, mirrors a number of pursuits, interests and possibilities occurring at the institutional level due to the shifts in Romania’s foreign affairs policy of the time, which inevitably shaped the public cultural agenda. Furthermore, this micro-history captures the paradigm shift in the visual and performing arts after 1965, the tendencies of empowerment and individuation of the artistic gesture through the configuring of anti-formalist, self-reflexive attitudes and, to the same extent, it opens a discussion envisaging the relations developed locally between the new art practices and the (official) Socialist art of the time. Such deconstruction of the various frequencies of this cultural exchange underlines the role it played in situating the Romanian art of the period in direct relation with similar manifestations regionally and internationally.

Inspired by the title of the poem 24 Arguments (1984) by artist Paul Neagu, the exhibition invites a multi-layered reading of the experiences, tempos and fine weavings intertwined between the institutional and the individual narratives, between the local conditions and the global dialogues, starting from a series of works conceived in this time. Thus, 24 Arguments. Early Encounters in Romanian Neo-Avant-Garde 1969–1971 allow us to revisit the artists’ individual trajectories, to follow the variety of media approached and to understand the significances of this moment in the local history of art, setting a non-linear, transversal itinerary between the various constellations of the exhibition. Beyond the diversity of media, traditions and references that have shaped the work of these artists, beyond the incidental connections that have occurred as a result of Demarco’s visit to Romania, this exhibition does not stop at the biographical connections and links, but rather investigates the existence a common spirit that defined this generation of artists.

24 Arguments includes a performing event based on a reconstruction of the work Genesis by choreographer Miriam Răducanu, performed by artist Mădălina Dan. The piece was part of the programme presented in the frame of Romanian Art Today, featured as part of the Edinburgh Festival Fringe 1971.

Research and exhibition concept: Alina Șerban
Research and artistic direction: Ștefania Ferchedău

The exhibition is realised by the Institute of the Present in collaboration with the National Museum of Art of Romania and the Demarco Archive, Edinburgh.

Lenders to the exhibition:
The National Museum of Art of Romania, The Museum of Art Timișoara, “Vasile Pârvan” Museum Bârlad, the Museum of Visual Art Galați, “Țării Crișurilor” Museum Oradea, the Museum of Art Piatra Neamț, “Gavrilă Simion” Institute for Eco-Museal Research Tulcea, Demarco Archive, Triade Foundation, Paul Neagu Estate UK, Ion Bitzan Foundation, Ivan Gallery, Collections of artists Radu Dragomirescu, Șerban Epure, John Fairleigh & Ken and Sinead Whitelaw, Constantin Flondor, Ritzi Jacobi, Peter Jacobi, Diet Sayler, Vladimir Șetran, Collections Răzvan Bănescu, Viktor Oppenheim Haus, Ștefan Pelmuș, Mihai Pop, Ovidiu Șandor and other private collections from Romania and abroad.

Images and documents from:
Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Edinburgh, Demarco European Art Foundation and Demarco Digital Archive, University of Dundee, Kettle’s Yard, University of Cambridge, National Contemporary Art Museum of Romania, Archive of Romanian Television, Archive of Radio Romania. 

Funders: Cultural programme co-funded by the Administration of the National Cultural Fund and by the Romanian Order of Architects from the architectural stamp
Logistic Partners:
DHL International Romania, Hornbach
Supported by:
British Council România, Rezidența BRD Scena9
Communication partner: DC Communication
Media partners: Radio România Cultural, rfi România, Zeppelin

Acknowledgments: Sanda Agalides, Irina Bitzan, Letiția Bucur, Gigi Căciuleanu, Jane Chisholm, Thomas Ciulei, Iolanda Costide, Richard Demarco, Diehl Gallery, Radu Dragomirescu, Anca Drăgoi, John Fairleigh, Constantin Flondor, Ruxandra Garofeanu, Daria Ghiu, Jennifer Gough-Cooper, Adelina Ivan, Marian Ivan, Viviana Iacob, Ritzi Jacobi, Peter Jacobi, Andrei Jecza, Sorina Jecza, George Lecca, Eugeniu Lupu, Cosmin Manolescu, Sofia Mihăilescu, Terry Ann Newman, Liliana Niculescu, Bogdan Pelmuș, Mihai Pop & Plan B Berlin, Ioana Popescu, Heinz Possert, Miriam Răducanu, Cornel Răducanu, Horia Rusu, Diet Sayler, Decebal Scriba, Cătălin Sîrbu, Ioana Spiridon, Giles Sutherland, Vladimir Șetran, Sebestyen Szekely, Lena Conta Vieru, Marta Zboralska, Fernanda Zei, Mihai Ziman, Fondation Toms Pauli, Lausanne, Institut für Moderne Kunst Nürnberg, “Constantin Brăiloiu” Institute for Ethnography and Folklore.

Exhibition identity: Andrei Turenici (Daniel & Andrew Design Studio)
Architecture: skaarchitects
Logistic support:
Națca Vaszilcsin, Sonia Irimescu
Image editing: Serioja Bocsok, Ana Negoiță
Communication advisers: Felicia Moga, Cecilia Gheorghe
Translations: Claudia Lie, Laura Ionică, Mihnea Costiuc

24 Arguments, poem by Paul Neagu (1984), courtesy of Paul Neagu Estate UK
– Miriam Răducanu, Genesis (Edinburgh, 1971), courtesy of Demarco European Art  Foundation and Demarco Digital Archive, University of Dundee.
– Ion Bitzan, Objects, 1971, metal, canvas, sand. Credit photo: Eugeniu Lupu. Courtesy Ion Bitzan Foundation.
– Pavel Ilie, Object, wicker, 1971. Twings (sculpture), wickers, 1971. Credit photo: Eugeniu Lupu.

Disclaimer: The programme does not necessarily represent the standpoint of the Administration of the National Cultural Fund. AFCN cannot be held liable for the content of the programme or the manner in which the outcomes of the programme may be used. These shall devolve entirely on the beneficiary of the financing.

(agenda to be continuously updated)

Performances of Genesis
by Miriam Răducanu
reinterpretation in a choreography by Mădălina Dan

The National Museum of Art of Romania, National Gallery wing, ground floor
2020, 25.01 at 17:00
2019, 08.12 at 16:00
16.11 at 11:00 and at 17:00
15.11 at 17:00
10.11 at 17:00
9.11 at 11:00 and at 17:00
7.11 at 8:30

Looking Forward, Looking Back lecture series
30.01.2020, Viviana Iacob
Richard Demarco & Arthur Watson

15.11 at 18:00, the National Museum of Art of Romania, National Gallery wing, ground floor
Ioana Popescu, On the Making and Passages of Mankind, in connection with the Genesis performance.

11.11 at 19:00, British Council Romania
Klara Kemp-Welch, Reassembling the Social: Networking East European Experimental Art.

24 Arguments Educational programme, November-December 2019, the National Museum of Art of Romania, National Gallery wing, ground floor
Workshops for students in partnership with Ferdinand I Secondary School, Bucharest, held by artists Mădălina Dan (dance) and Lea Rasovszky (visual arts) and by studioBASAR— Cristi Borcan, Alex Axinte (architecture).
Calendar and links from the Romanian version of this page.

Details at: ip@institutulprezentului.ro

Institutul Prezentului