Path over Water | 2009-2010
New Impressions | 2002-2005
Raising | 2001
Impressions | 1999-2001
At Heaven's Gate | 1997-1998
Air'96 | 1996-1997
The Wine | 1996
The Scale | 1995
Closed Garden | 1994
In the Name of the River | 2013 - 2015
August Dream | 2011 - 2012
Drawings | 2010
Traces on Water | 2006-2009
French Riviera | 2009
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In the Name of the River” by Claudiu Presecan - Cluj Art Museum
The birth of my son was a very important moment in my life: everything was reborn for me and got new meanings, another dimension. I have discovered the river in its greatness and beauty. The resonance of silence, the beauty of the landscapes of my wanderings along the river and mountain waters led me to capture in painting the images of rapid or mild streams, they made me think of harmony and atemporality. Because of its sacred meaning (water is the symbol of life and death or immortality), the river remains a purifying and regenerative element. I have tried to express this idea through the filter of my soul enclined towards natural beauty. I have depicted impressions, aquatic or aerial elements, details, the water reflections in a first series of paintings starting with 2011 and have continued until 2013. This process led me to the exhibit titled “August Dream”, and continued with the “Magic River” and the present exhibit “In the Name of the River”. In the present exhibit “In the Name of the River” I have focused on the aquatic abstract elements, those of shape and color playing on the beautiful skin of the trout, the “king of the river”.
The exhibit “In the Name of the River” is intended as a connective bridge between the material and spiritual worlds; it is an advocacy effort for the possible spiritual renewal of mankind.
Claudiu Presecan, Cluj, April 12, 2015
Watermark” by Anca Negescu, curator & owner / Artfooly, The Slice of Art Gallery
Painter Claudiu Presecan was born in Cluj in 1969, where he lives and works. It was also in Cluj that he graduated from the “Ioan Andreescu” Academy of visual arts, obtained his Master’s Degree and PhD in visual arts. Claudiu has an impressive exhibition portfolio, as well as numerous national and international grants and awards. Claudiu Presecan is in love with nature, a passionate fly-fisherman, and a supporter of environmental protection. Above all, he is a painter with a preference for the abstract, who often paints in plein-air and who transfers nature onto his canvases in his own manner, which seduces through color and brushstrokes. Out of all the elements, water is the one that influences him the most, materializing in spectacular works. Claudiu uses his brush to lay traces, shades and surprising visual effects on water surfaces, a style which has become the artist’s personal mark. “Watermark”, the summer show at Artfooly, The Slice of Art Gallery brings to the public’s attention mainly new works shown for the first time and a small selection of older works.
““Watermark” is a calligraphic trait which translates a story inspired by a river into images. It’s about a universal river which belongs to us all, a force and joy of life which transcends the present and space and confesses its free spirit. As the river flows, all traces between figurative and abstract, light and color are erased.” C. Presecan
*A watermark is an identifying image or pattern in paper that appears as various shades of lightness/darkness when viewed by transmitted light, caused by thickness or density variations in the paper.
Christine R. Holderness - former curator at the Contemporary Art Institute of Boston / Director at the Brattleboro Museum, Vermont, USA
Path Over The Water - 2011
“From Behind the Veil”
In Claudiu Presecan’s recent series of paintings and drawings, Path over The Water, his investigation into how gesture is translated into visual imagery continues. Using a variety of methods of applying pigments—pouring, dripping, smearing, dropping, erasing—this series walks an edge between figuration and abstraction. Inspired by the vast Danube Delta which transverses his native Romania with its lagoons, reeds, hidden recesses, and isolated villages this art speaks to movement, change and, in a poetic way, to continuity. This work does not, however, portray a specific landscape; rather it speaks to an experience that transcends place and time.
During the communist regime in Romania, which ended in 1989, reeds from the delta were extensively, and determinately, harvested with the goal of transforming the delta into a large agro-industrial zone. The reed, in Presecan’s previous series, Traces of Water, is a symbol of the individual, freedom, and resistance, essentially a life force that perseveres. In his current work, the imagery of the reed becomes more and more abstracted leaving in its wake a trace, a quivering, of its being. Movement replaces figuration and form occupies space much as dancers move through their bodies as they alter, momentarily, their surroundings. For Presecan landscape is, in ways, a metaphor for inner psychological and spiritual states that are given structure and certain permanence through the physicality of painting.
Presecan refers to a “water universe“ in which our inner world blends often seamlessly with the external landscape. Water, in the work of Presecan, is symbolic of a vastness that is simultaneously, and continually, revealing a micro and macro universe. It is interesting to note that the human body is approximately 60% water (at birth it is closer to 75% but diminishes with age). In utereo, we all evolved within amniotic fluid that the developing fetus inhales and then exhales throughout the pregnancy. We are, then, in a very real sense formed by, and of, water. Water is thus not only essential to our initial and continuing existence, we are literally containers for large amounts of water. Much like a river forms a path for water to transverse through our bodies are nourished and sustained by paths of water.
In the oil painting, “Path over Lake (120cm x 50cm) 2010,” the viewer is confronted not so much by a place as by a fleeting moment. It is as if a small section of an environment is zoomed in on, forming an almost microscopic rendering, or cross-section. And by so doing a peeling away of layers occurs, revealing an abstract combination of colors, shapes, and lines in a highly energized state, recalling that all matter consist of molecules which are never completely static, but always moving. A diffuse blue, green background is interspersed with floating yellow cell-like shapes and horizontal red lines that transverse the surface, suggesting power and vitality more than violence or a ripping apart.
“Path over Lake,” is a large horizontal painting and in its’ shape and size recalls Chinese scroll painting. In this type of painting, which stretches back many centuries, a narrative, or story, inspired usually by a landscape, is presented. Presecan’s use of line, too, has a calligraphic quality to it, a mysterious language that seems to spring from an ancient and forgotten civilization.
The pastel drawings in this exhibition are all titled Delta and numbered. Unlike his paintings, in which color is prominent, these drawings are primarily created with black pastel. Delta #22 was influenced by a recent boat trip the artist took down the Danube Delta to Sulina, Romania. This remote town can only be reached by water or by hiking. Cruising on the Danube through undeveloped countryside there is a timeless quality to the landscape and to the Romania it reflects. In this drawing, which is more representational then others exhibited, the perspective is of traveling down the center of the river. As always in Presecan’s work, movement and motion is emphasized and examined as are lines between abstraction and figuration. Black circular abstract forms pave the way though the water and cascade throughout trees and float into the sky. These simple shapes order and unify the space, like dancers. The mood created is in many aspects one of religious or spiritual contemplation, encouraging a “freedom of the spirit,” a vision that links together all of Presecan’s oeuvre.
Alexandra Rus, Ph.D. / Foreword to the catalogue of the exhibition “Impressions”, Cluj and Viena 2002
An understanding of the surroundings, the earth, the sky, the light and the cosmos as entities even or living generative configurations has led Claudiu Presecan to a reconsideration of time as becoming communicative by inventing a nostalgic paradise world.
Presecan styles sequences of his own inner garden, of an authentic plastic universe, full of the freshness and joy of discovery, in an original way, with impulses of creativity free of conventions… His chromatic dynamics tends to create the ”expectation tension”, directed not to a real or invented space or an actualized time but rather to a “state”; the nostalgia of the paradise garden being simply “the garden of clear spiritual experience.”
His painting is one flooded by luminous effluences, combining clouds of chromatic nuclei, light wing-like touches, savant arabesque modulations, emphatic counterpoints located on the secret gold section. Image becomes a fairy and magical place, where the substantiation of contrasting pairs is made possible: male/female, full/empty, geometric/organic, verticality/movement, earthly and cosmic.
The surprise and the unexpected generated by his exceptional creativity render essential a shift from the ascending force of the chromatic bands of ‘98, a corollary of the need for spiritual elevation, to the ouroborous, the cosmic spiral, and on to the frenzy of experiencing the richness of the world. Crossovers, flexions, chromatic clouds – they represent a sui generis passing from the abstract vibration to an agglomeration of chromatic nuclei in a cold/warm or complementary relation, which claim the perception of the unseen. There are “horizons” of chromatic nuclei, resuming to the original creation of elements from an “unseen enclave”, at the border of the abstract; there are the exquisite areas of nuclei of single precious colours or grouped in a savant way in oil, acrylic, rugged or refined, and they evoke a mountain, a forest, the fresh orchard in blossom, the lake, the serene sky or, in contrast, the trajectory of a star, the melodious genesis of a galaxy.
Claudia Moscovici, Romanian-American novelist and art/literary critic.
Claudiu Presecan‘s art looks like a more abstract, contemporary version of Monet’s paintings. Prescan’s latest series,Traces on Water (Urme pe apa) doesn’t just look like an updated Impressionism: it actually conceptualizes the complex (post)Impressionist interplay between the eye’s perception of light and the painter’s representations of water, sky and the beauty of nature. The artist states in his mission statement that his aesthetic revolution takes place by “escaping in Nature” to seek the sensations “that fulfill the soul through the dazzling interplay between water and light.”
As you can tell from the painting above, the lines and contours of Presecan’s paintings are more abstract and suggestive than in traditional Impressionist art. They merely hint at the objects they represent rather than showing them realistically. At the same time, Presecan’s artistic experiments with light are in some respects more philosophical (phenomenological) than materialist, as they were for the Impressionists. Following in the footsteps of some of the classical philosophers, Presecan depicts water as the essence of nature. Not only is water, like air itself, an element basic to survival, but also it symbolizes the cycles of life. In its fluidity and blue-green color, water represents mystery, depth, calmness and luminosity.
Radu Vasile - Art Critic - Copenhagen - 2001
“Impressions, rising sun…” is a paraphrase after the Claude Monet’s famous work with the same title, symbolising the birth of self-conscience in the artistic Impressionism. But the Levant, in the accept of European
traditional culture and civilisation signifies the spiritual space of the European oriental sensitivity with roots in Balkan Peninsula and the history springing from Byzance. The exhibition of these young Romanian artists laying under this generic has a double signification: the re-waking of origins conscience and the solar levitation by which those, at least in Romania after 1989, take back their places in the lines of the international artistic phenomenon.
It is not only about the escape of young artists’ art from ancient communist stereotypes and the lining within the contemporary international artistic phenomenon, but also about the entrance on the territory of a new kind of freedom and the assuming of a certain spontaneity that become criteria of artistic value. The sediments of old academic education are dislocated and evacuated under the forte jet of the sensorial expressiveness and of a dis-inhibited chromatic acuity. The repertoire of plastic forms modifies as the pictorial procedures. The original
impressionism is exulted by expressionism and the spirituality specific to the great lesson of Paul Klee. But the most surprising impressions is the fact this painting, possessing also the softness and discrete sparkling of
tapestries (Romanian traditional carpets) is re-oriented on the European art direction by the impressing Gate (not the Turk one guarding the Balkans) made by the group of Nordic artists named “Cobra” (Copenhagen,
Brussels, Amsterdam) that has become for young Romanian artists a manifestation of live and not surprising affinity (...)
For Claudiu Presecan, the native tradition is treated in a slightly bantering manner, entraining, sub-textually, a benign irony of the discourse, a gravity of the reflection masked by a game of indifference and giving back engagement, in a precipitated but colloquial discourse which hides the polemic reports with ancient myths of traditional landscape painting. There is a chromatic hedonism (in the good sense of the word) assumed in a tashist formula where the report between form and colour stain inverse.
“Composition weight” underlined by graphic modulations is counterbalanced by the evanescent lyricism of a “action painting” manner. The landscaping space, re-composed in the workshop, re-iterates the chromatic impressions invading his retina and transform into a voluptuous game where the depths and transparent plans are kept in a permanent dialogue. The language freedom assumed constantly as a criterion of his appertaining to contemporary art, the refuse of concrete detail, the extirpation of rustic composition of the landscape prove the townsman evading from an Arcadia whose utopias are replaced by the modern value of the Urban. His fresh
sensitivity writes again the old themes in a contemporary language, but with a conciliating submission towards the marvellous space of Balkan and Byzantine universe.
Livia Dragoi, Ph.D.
Director of the National Museum of Art Cluj
(Foreword to the exhibition catalogue “Impression, Sunrise”, 2001 at The National Museum of Art Cluj)
Art critics have sensed the rigour of an underlying conceptual program, related to the critical and the polemic assimilation of certain specific matters of Romanian traditional landscape painting, beyond the explosive character of his chromatic fairy scenes and a certain ludicrous sense of approach, even since Presecan’s exhibition two years ago, which the painter entitled in a slightly polemic manner “On a heaven-like realm” (it would be interesting, of course, to analyse -in the same key- all Claudiu Presecan’s stages of creation, structured in distinct cycles, only seemingly divergent, but deriving in fact coherently one out of the other; the author resumes in a deep manner what he feels to be important for his development within a framework of an essentially post-modern vision).
The exhibition title itself defines the main objective of the most recent stage of this ambitious creation program, which is uncompromisingly elaborated and developed by Claudiu Presecan. The artist analyses the impressionist painting from an individual perspective, while he extends and goes thoroughly into the aims of the previous phase; it is a sensitive approach with important consequences for his own creation. Affirmation and denial of the impressionist attitude in contemporary art are, in fact, a permanent attraction for this orientation. It has been considered at first a revolution with repercussion of decisive importance in the artistic becoming of the 20th century or, on the contrary, the spectacular ending –an ending nevertheless - of an artistic evolution with a nucleus concept (the mimesis) which has definitively lost its actuality, from the non-figurative art perspective.
Claudiu Presecan’s exhibition of this creation phase reveals a painter fascinated by the hidden, chancing and endless character of the possibilities of intercepting one and the same fragment of natural reality; the artist surpasses the condition of the spontaneous act and the revealed images come from a subtle twinning between sensitive observation and visual culture, applied to certain natural motives charged with inner vigour. It looks like the painter is no longer afraid of becoming vulnerable, as he gives up the detached, slightly ironic or self-satirized attitude. He recaptures with fresh emotion a vegetative nature teeming with vigour, without any cultural inhibitions, and he delightfully abandons himself to the effect of the moment. He enjoys the air freshness and the caress of the wind, the blue sky and the light beam through the quivering foliage of the trees or the flighty game of the reflexes on the translucent and moving mirror of water… The light-colour becomes the centre plan of the painter’s interest, the real hero of the image, along with this nature rediscovery feast. The palette is deliberately limited to the pure prime-tones of the prism, while the acoustic harmony is enhanced by the whiteness of the support and the contrasting blacks. The colour seems fresh, even moist due to the water steams emanated from the lake embraced by the sun warmth, it is sparkling like precious stones which had remarkably seized the light within their transparent crystals; it covers the canvas in wide voluptuous gestures loaded with vital energy, which create a genuine rhythm integrated into those of natural being, as well as in the dynamic rhythms belonging to the contemporary experience. An authentic endorsement, within the frames of a certain programmatically exacerbated acuteness is conferred to this stage of creation, as well, due to the freedom of the energetic gesture, programmatically assumed by a fanatic abstract impressionism practitioner, as a mark for a specific contemporary art language.
Dana Altman, curator (Westwood Gallery, New York), 2001
Claudiu Presecan emerges as an Abstract Expressionist at a time when this art movement itself has become just a museum memory for most of us. His works seem to return at the origins of the movement: imbued with freshness, drawing inspiration from basic premises. The artistic pursuit involves the attempt to convey raw emotion through abstract means, a long-term modernist ideal. On a private level, it is probably Presecan’s attempt to stay emotionally alive in a depressing, uncertain situation, related to the more general uncertainty of Eastern Europe in the difficult process of rebuilding and trying to construct a new political and economic future.
The paintings vibrate with new life and fresh emotion and are charged with a sense of possibility becoming reality. Structure is latent in the apparent chaos of the artist’s handling; it is a metaphor for the structured, disciplined self. Presecan’s gestural works, in their flowing grace, involve a pictographic look, as well as the awareness of material and primitive communication. His pictorial gestures seem ready to express the apparent inexpressible in primary, vibrant colors. They are on the verge of becoming recognizable signs, but they never become readable, remaining enwrapped in the mystery of their own making: to become intelligible would be to betray their inner dynamic.
Radu Vasile, Art critic - At Heaven’s Gate - 1998
“At Heaven’s Gate, reveals a new facet of this personality: an artist of great conceptual power, whose programme is carried out in a slightly taunting manner, as his discourse compromises a streak of benign irony and reports itself polemically to the Romanian tradition of landscape painting. Moreover, we discover in him a ludic spirit, as his sober meditation is concealed by a presumption of indifference and detachment; a precipitated, colloquial discourse which is hidding its polemic ties with the succes myths of our traditional landscape painting. It is an insidious, corrosive manner of attacking Grigorescu’s basic tenets, but one which paradoxical his present programme might seem, its aim is to assimilate, in a critical, cotroversial manner, the tradition of Romanian Landscape painting in which we rank with the best European artists. The idylic character of the rural school and the lyricism of the old school of landscape painting, the realistic representation of the motif, are replaced by a chromatic hedonism (in the good sense of the word) that has assimilated the lesson of modernism perfectly; the impressionist brush-stroke, at times the graphic modulation and the voluptuousness of touch are the individual components of his style. What is kept from Grigorescu* is the “colour-light” concept, frantically embraced. Recomposed in the studio, the landscape reiterates the colour impressions of nature, transforming them into a voluptuous game, in which a permanent dialogue is established between the foreground and the depth structures. The freedom of expression (assumed constantly, as a certificate of belonging to contemporary art), the refusal of concrete details, the expurgation of the rustic element from the landscape, all point to the city dweller who has fled from an Arcadia whose Utopia is replaced by the modern values of urban culture. His fresh sensitivity puts old subjects to new uses, with acuity of exxpresion characteristic of the artists of the contemporary world. His programme, convincing and sublime, is certainly a successful one”.
* _ Grigorescu Nicolae 1835-1907; the most important impressionist Romanian painter, member of the Barbizon Group, Paris_
Ramona Terdic Novicov, Art critic - Foreword to the exhibition catalogue “ The Wine” - 1996
“Vine makes wine, wine leads to drunkenness and drunkenness to extasy. Therefore the active reason, that is, the vine, cultivated through virtues, gives birth to conscience; and conscience to the oyful extasy, which takes the mind out from its link with feeling.”
St. Maxim The Confessor – answer to Talasie.
The painting: screen-surface and place of projection receives the energy of gesture; gesture bends and rotates in the air, naming, unseen, in space the virtuality of a certain form.
The gesture which attracts the form is developing in front of the canvas; the shadow of this valted, seducing danse has the colours of the prism: pure, burning, immaterial; even black becomes soft and tender…
Colour as a projection of form,
wine as a projection of vine,
the being as projection of the spirit,
the seen as a projection of the “unseen”
and if only the projection, a mere shadow, is os intensly shining, how can the unnamed, premonitory form situated within the space between the surface-image and the look be? How intensely does it shine in the white light of the genesis?
As if the unseen Body was the prism suspended which casts the colour of the rainbow on the surface of the canvas.
Claudiu resembles those workers who press the grapes to make wine without touching the vine. He has a way of painting without touching the secret model; he merely caresses, enabellishes, rotates, envelopes and calls it. Thus his painting becomes a mode of being silent joyfully about their spirit, about the light of their miraculous, real, visible and eucharistic shadow, about “the joyful extasy which takes the mind out from its link with feeling”.
Naturally, line and colour become equal, for they are the projection of a sole gesture and faith; their extatic danse creates thevery body of the image, imponderable and living in reality only as pattern, Reflex and memory of the divine model, the one that justifies their existence.
Thus, you can become drunk with the joy of its lively and shiny presence, you can paint the model in a thousand ways without naming it, happy with the throught that “vine makes wine, wine leads to drunknness and drunknness to extasy…”
Ramona Terdic Novicov - Art critic - APOSTROF, Literary Magazine - Cluj,
no.9 (64) 1995
Biography: born on April 12, 1969 in Cluj-Napoca, he belongs to the generation of young artists in full affirmation; graduated The Academy of Visual Arts, 1988-1994; complex, many-sided formation (ceramics-painting),
focussing on the artistic experimentation; graduation diploma obtained in 1994; MA studies between 1994-1995, co-ordinated by Prof. Florin Maxa; his international competitively is confirmed by the selection of his works in
several important exhibitions together with his participation at the "master-class" summer courses organised by the A.S.U. and Amsterdam Institute for Painting, where he worked with Jiri Georg Dokoupil, one of the most prestigious artists of the contemporary avant-garde.
Direction of investigation: the zone of interference between the " natural" and the "cultural" order.
The graduation diploma represented a first moment in the representative configuration of a personal artistic language. Then, in the garden of his house - integrated in the gardens of Cluj, imagining the paradisiac "close
garden" after the model of the interlocked magic boxes - took place the meeting between the exultation of the chromatic language articulated in ardent tones, meant to evoke the miracle of the "Genesis" and of the
presence of Christ, and the piousness, raised up to impersonal humility, to the masterly execution of the exhibition enclosure, made of shingles after the church or house from the Carpathians Apuseni Mountains (in the heart of Transylvania) - landmarks with biographical connotations.
The programmatic value of this pictorial "installation" is confirmed by the exhibition held in the restaurant "Napoca 15"(June-July 1995), a nonconformist, exemplary model of the total opening towards the world of art and artists. This time, two worlds- Painting and Landscape cease to stay "face to face", but fuse into a sole, unitary image, seized by the respiration of a single gesture through which it justifies its existence. The liberty of its vision and transposition in a new formula is the result of the suppression of the boundary that should separate, according to the inoperative logic of the common sense, artifice from natural, action from contemplation, instinct from rational intelligence. Out of these antinomies realities, emerges the independent, auto referential plastic Object, the
best support of a true sovereign image, without syncope's or internal breaking; functioning according to its own reality only in the moment in which its cultural charge has become its "second nature".
A major role in the process of unification of the new images was played by the thorough knowledge of the vision and technique of the folk glass painting. A conclusive example in this respect is offered by the graduation
diploma: "The Icons on Glass from Transylvania, XVII Th- XIX Th CTS". The exceptional expressivity of the image, the conciseness and plasticity of the touch that becomes almost an ideogram, were formed through the plastic
language exercises initiated by Dokoupil in Amsterdam under the generic sign " the intelligence line" (the title of the final exhibition). Thus, Claudiu Presecan's painting found its identity at the intersection of different artistic trends, but subjected to the archetypal vitality of the linear direction "intelligently" unfolded in space.
However, Presecan's painting isn't linear in a graphic or decorative sense. His line is charged with the great delight of painting. The power that organiser the space comes from the coloured line, the medium where the
energy of matter and of the Spirit fuse completely. Set, without ostentation, under a Christian sign, the adventure of his image is deliberately consumed on the surface of the pictorial support, within the virtual space between its material reality and sight, after the Mediaeval model of the Orthodox East. In a characteristic way, the colour becomes transfigured, not only by avoiding the illusion of three-dimensional corporeality, but dissipating in flat transparencies, the ideal mediums to collect "the distant light". Through these imperceptible shades emerges an
exceptional artistic sensibility, whose delicacy is willingly hidden behind the tumultuous and "cruel" performance of lines and colours. This unifying coherence, which seldom appears in a fragmentary world, supports the
correspondence between theme and technique. The touch is created in a moment, as if it was a revealing writing, marked by the urgency of its faithful communication and is so strong that it overpasses the conventional
limit of the frame. Both the expressive touch and the colour bring explicitly into light the mediaeval filiation, underlined also by the chosen themes. The 51 works, the majority grouped in series of 7, follow the essential moments of "The Genesis" ("The Garden of Eden","Adam and Eve","Jacob's Scale) or are centred on the figure of Christ, especially on the "uncanonical" hypostasis from "Jesus with vine" as it appears in the folk glass painting, but interpreted to the configuration of the power lines only.
The migration of the motives from the interior of the image to the frame and, virtually, to the infinite, the separation of colour from its own contours as if it was the coloured shadow of the line are distinctive elements of a powerful artistic language anchored in the interior existence. It brings us close to the miraculous scale from Jacob's dream, to say with him with wonder and joy: "God is truly in this place and I didn't know it!"