Adrian Ghenie will represent Romania at the 56th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia. The Romanian Pavilion, curated by Mihai Pop, will showcase Darwin’s Room, an exhibition of paintings by Adrian Ghenie organized across three rooms – according to the original interior architecture of the Pavilion (from 1938) – and will comprise a specific theme for each of these rooms: The Tempest, The Portrait Gallery (Self-portrait as Charles Darwin), and The Dissonances of History.
Expanding upon Darwin’s ‘laboratory,’ Ghenie proposes an interpretive path into the notion of survival. He reads into the theory of biological evolutionism and the ways it has been skewed to transform societies. He also draws upon other historical sources in his updating of this image (fundamental to our self-perception), ‘contaminating’ it with a keen reflection on neoliberal competitiveness, extending across all areas and folds of social and affective life. Darwin’s studio broadens its scope and becomes an incubator where future ideas grow and develop. It is an interweaving of past and future histories that does not hold proof or speculation on species evolution, which neither distorts nor idealizes, but opens a path towards a reformulation of the social values that structure contemporary existence. To equal extents, this returns to an essential moment, when epistemological tables were turned, and uses Darwin’s scientific tabula rasa to project or inscribe a new image of our future.
Gazing into the future is premised on revisiting the past with a lucid eye, parsing through myths that accreted as foundation for the writing of history, of the fictions that define nations, of the fabricated narratives that fragment history into centres and peripheries, occupied respectively by winners and losers.
Adrian Ghenie (b. 1977, Baia Mare) belongs to a generation that has demonstrated its ability to lucidly reflect upon the difficult and often traumatic underpinningsof local histories.The use of a nuanced examination of how the contemporary is shaped by memory and desire, convulsion and spectacle, plays a central part in his work. Ghenie is, alongside other remarkable representatives of the same artistic community, one of the founders of the Paintbrush Factory in Cluj, which brings together some of the most dynamic artistic initiatives in Romania. Previous solo exhibitions include: Centro de Arte Contemporáneo Málaga (2015); Golems, Pace Gallery, London (2014); On the Road to… Tarascon, Plan B, Berlin (2013, with Navid Nuur); Pie-Fights and Pathos, Museum for Contemporary Art, Denver (2012); S.M.A.K. Museum, Ghent (2010); and The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Bucharest (2009). Previous group exhibitions include: I Will Go There, Take Me Home, MAC Belfast (2015); Six Lines of Flight, San Francisco Museum of Modern Art (2012); Francis Bacon and the Existential Condition in Contemporary Art, Palazzo Strozzi, Florence (2012); European Travellers: Art from Cluj Today, Kunsthalle Mücsarnok, Budapest (2012); The Crystal Hypothesis, Galleria d’Arte Moderna e Contemporanea Bergamo (2010); and the Liverpool Biennial (2008). The artist lives and works in Cluj and Berlin.