Adrian Ghenie: Solo Show
Mihai Nicodim Gallery is pleased to present the second solo show of Adrian Ghenie in the gallery.
Adrian Ghenie, born in 1977, draws his inspiration from personal memories of growing up in communist Romania under the dictatorship of Ceausescu. He witnessed history being written and rewritten, first hand, and that period of transition left a deep impact on him. The artist takes the viewer on a journey through some of the darkest states of human existence - oppression, abjection, tragedy, persecution, poverty, loneliness and misery, hoping to find himself in the grey area between a movie script and real life. In a society thrown in fast forward, Ghenie feels like he is passing through a series of rooms loaded with history and subconscious dark private fears.
In this new body of work, Ghenie offers a contemporary position on a universal theme of those abusing power and those abused by them. The subjects of "The Trial" painting are Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu, the abusive dictator and his wife, of the former communist Romania. Ghenie's powerful painterly language navigates from the grotesque to the sublime in depicting the last minutes before the execution of the dictators by a firing squad in 1989, ending the dictator's 24 years as communist party leader - 21 of them as Romania's president - during which he suppressed all opposition using brutal force.
The trial of Nicolae and Elena Ceausescu by a secret military tribunal found them both guilty of genocide and crimes against the state. It lasted for just under an hour. Watching the proceedings, one is filled with a queasy sense of history at its rawest, stripped to brutal fundamentals. Here are two living people, once powerful rulers of their country, now defenseless, about to become dead. How would it have been, one wonders, to see the show trials of King Louis XVI of France or Marie Antoinette or the trumped-up trial of Anne Boleyn? This comes pretty close. Once the sentence was pronounced, four soldiers approached the couple to tie their hands with a crude ball of twine. The intention was apparently to shoot them one at a time but they insisted on dying together. The footage of the trial takes on an unrefined, unedited quality far more dramatic than any Hollywood production.
Adrian Ghenie recently showed in the Liverpool Biennial (2009), Prague Biennale (2009, 2007) and had solo shows at Haunch of Venison Zurich and London, Tim Van Laere, Antwerp, Nolan-Judin, Berlin and Galeria Plan B, Cluj and Berlin. He is currently having a solo show at the National Museum of Contemporary Art, Bucharest and his upcoming solo at S.M.A.K., Ghent opens December 2010. His work is in the permanent collections of Hammer Museum, Los Angeles, MOCA, Los Angeles, S.M.A.K. , Ghent and Museum van Hedendaagse Kunst, Antwerp.