WHAT DO YOU SEE?
It's elucidating to look for the lightest spot in a painting of Cantemir Hausì, or for the most intense spot in terms of color. Usually there is such a place, often a detail, working as a painterly accent. In David (2012) the nose of a man is glowing, while his eyes and large parts of his face are hidden in shadow. In Back Yard Camping (2012) it's the tent peg pinned in the ground, in the lower part of the painting. Around it, two men are kneeling down, to secure the red tent behind them. The peg is only a small detail in a big painting but it lights up in remarkable green, drawing attention to the ground and contrasting with the rest of the canvas that is executed in a brownish red.
Color and light offer a spectacle in itself in Hausì's paintings - apart from being a vehicle for some kind of narrative. The painter could be called a restrained colorist, creating local climaxes on the canvas with a light dot, an explicit shadow or a transparent veil. Most paintings show scenes with one or a few people and the suggestion of a story. In Three (2012) there is a magician with a pigeon and a top hat as his attributes. He seems to evoke the apparition of a second face in the background. In the earlier mentioned Back Yard Camping the two men appear as soldiers, but their clothes could also be training suits. Their identity and situation is not further defined.
Looking at Hausì's work creates a feeling of complicity. There is some hidden meaning or mystery to be uncovered. Study over Three Points of View (2012) shows a kitchen conversation between three friends, next to the fridge. Or is it a cellar where a secret meeting is taking place? The scene as a whole is kept vague and is executed in a quick and carefree way, which adds to the subversive atmosphere. Most parts are covered under a veil of green. But then again, there are some light spots, like the pink face and arms of the left person, distancing himself from the scene, creating an second voice in the painting.
In The Edge of a City (2012) seven small figures are posing on the top of a hill – gathered in an outing. The scene looks Goyesque, but in miniature. The clothes show tiny color accents, dots of white, yellow, blue and red, in a further green landscape of hills that surrounds the figures. The landscape is thick and so seems the atmosphere. Once it may have been colorful and joyful scene, but all is covered now under darker skies and layers of paint.
Hausì's artistic enterprise appears as an act of balance between defining a specific scene and leaving it open for multiple readings. In his approach the question where to stop painting, is crucial. Restraint is one of his qualities. The work oscillates between high visibility and hidden meanings covered under layers of color.
Text: Jurriaan Benschop