UJ Kriterion Gallery: EXTRAfaces. Drawings 2011-2016

EXTRAfaces. Drawings 2011-2016

Mihai Zgondoiu

April 6 to June 3, 2017

Opening: Thursday, April 6th, 2017, 18:00 Uj Kriterion Gallery, Miercurea-Ciuc (RO)

facebook event: https://www.facebook.com/events/133730350493531/

“EXTRAfaces or Commitment to Pattern Arts

Imagined and proposed by Mihai Zgondiu, the “EXTRAfaces” project is a seducing and ludic discourse on manipulation and mystification through visual patterns. The topic chosen is the human construct, the mold of the Extraterrestrial created by our imagination. Owing to the emanating power of the mold-portrait, the Unknown, the Extraterrestrial has become a different Other created, or, better said, drawn by us in our own image and likeness. The chosen research topic, the portrait study of the alien, takes us to the boundary between fiction, the way we have designed an image which has, in its very essence, something human, and mystification, due to the fact that a possible authenticity is matched to a pattern-image of the unknown alien face. Thus, we have become omniscient Creators of visual constructions that can neither protest against being included in visual molds and in a consumerist seriality, nor can defend themselves against the Actor-Creator’s egotist and typically human invasions. The metamorphoses of a visual construct of this kind lead us to the galleries of the same imaginary spiritus loci, regardless of whether we have in mind Hans Rudolf Giger or Leo Garcia’s artworks or we encounter, as we do now, the re-interpretation of the extraterrestrial proposed by Mihai Zgondoiu.

From his first works on the topic of “EXTRAfaces” created in his artistic residence in the Austrian city of Linz in 2011, which are referred to as street art interventions, through a series of graffiti made at the “Museum of Destruction” in Zrenajnin, Serbia, to the notebooks and folders full of sketches and notes, all his techniques are borrowed from the visual pattern arts such as tags, paste ups, stencils, street interventions, collages or simply drawings in marker. Beyond these techniques, Zgondy has the vocation of re-semantising the patterns by applying another pattern on them.

If all that Man adds to Nature can become Culture, we can also imagine that all that Mihai Zgondoiu adds to the extraterrestrial nature can turn into the comprehensive portrait of the quest and finding of the Self!

But what will become of us if Zgondy is an extraterrestrial?”

(Dan Mircea Cipariu, writer and art commentator)

“Well-Tempered Dadaism. The Zgondy type

What else can an extraterrestrial’s face look like than the way we all know it does? How do we know it? It doesn’t actually matter how we know it: the head – often ridiculously big, a sign of an intelligence superior to humans – has gained an ovoid shape capable of enclosing sufficient grey matter to sustain this level of intelligence; huge, elongated, dark eyes ready to absorb a hundred times more visual information than we do. One can reconstruct the stages of the story nourished by the collective imagination of modernity, created around intelligent extraterrestrial forms of life with humanoid features – aliens, Martians, extraterrestrials, etc. Yet, Mihai Zgondoiu takes a shortcut. He closes his eyes, turns on the subconscious in his mind, and discharges from his memory a facial shape deposited in the muscular mechanics of his drawing hand. He cannot make a mistake. The extraterrestrial faces/Extra-Faces have been present in our minds since before we could read, they have been printed and deposited in our visual memory since our first encounter with the world of Cartoon Network, sci-fi films, video games, etc.

Usually of dark grey colour, but often appearing in green, translucent or shiny looks, as well, coming to the Earth with more or less peaceful intentions, or will be discovered by us in who knows which nook of a parallel universe in the future, the extraterrestrials populating our imagination are ready to come to light and take shape in Zgondy’s sketches. In blind fast forward repetition of a controlled gesture produces spectacular results. Zgondy’s EXTRA-Faces are useful not only for documenting the laboratory where more elaborated artworks, such as the 12-piece series of funerary photograph-type Bohemian ceramic items, are created. To the contrary, placed in sequence, next to each other, it becomes obvious that these drawings share a common concept reiterating the feeling that the extraterrestrial bestiary is nothing else than a variation of archetypical forms deposited in an even deeper layer of human memory.

Studying the Dada manifesto/history/topics helped Zgondy keep his cool when facing the demands of art as a visual projection of a previous intellectual commitment. The Object-Book “2012” revisits both the topic of the Book (the Sapiential Book, Holly Book, etc.) and that of the comics, which, in certain micro-cultures, have become a fetish as far as the expression of imagination in the domain of sci-fi is concerned. The tint drawings presented on the right hand side pages of the book appear together with photographic collages on the left pages, which yield surprising associations, intertwining shapes, shocking coincidences, ironies that question a number of prejudices. In his intelligent and subversive approach Zgondy shows us that, beyond the Dadaist hazard, he remains aware of the result produced. In “I’m a star”, which opened the EXTRAfaces series in January 2011, drawing is combined with collage on canvas resulting in a work of art with evident ludic intentions and explicit allusions to the space race – first ideological, then technological – between the USA and the USSR.”

(Dan Lazea)

Mihai Zgondoiu (b. 1982) is a visual artist, university assistant Ph.D. at UNA (National University of Arts Bucharest, Design Department), initiator and the coordinator of the Atelier 030202 Gallery – a contemporary art space in Bucharest and co-curator of geamMAT Gallery, part of the Art Museum in Timișoara (2012-2014), co-curator at Atelier în tranziție (English: Studio in transition) between 2009-2013, graphic designer at the Comedy Theatre in Bucharest (since 2005). Member of the Artists Union in Romania (since 2006).

Mihai Zgondoiu easily oscillates between experimental and traditional, approaching a wide range of styles and techniques with his artwork from drawing, collage, print, all the way to video-installations, action-performance and urban art.

The most recent exhibitions/solo projects are: New Wall / Calina Gallery – Timișoara 2017, Dada Brancusi / MB-XL Gallery – Bruxelles, 2016 & Galateca Gallery – Bucharest 2017, The Artist’s Golden Hand / FivePlus Gallery – Viena, 2014 & Aiurart Gallery – Bucharest, 2013, Lenin’s Sleep / Free Press Square – Bucharest, 2011, The Red Line / the National Dance Center of Dance in Bucharest, 2001, The Red Carpet / the Schlooss Museum courtyard – Linz, Austria, 2011, Freedom as Visual Pattern / Hampden Gallery – Incubator Art Space, Amherst, Massachusetts USA, 2010, Me Matrix / Calina Gallery – Timișoara, 2009, Me / Contemporary Art Gallery of the Brukenthal Museum – Sibiu, 2008.

He also participated in RERE. Overriding Design with Art and Vice-Versa – Vienna Design Week 2016, DADADA – Media Art Festival – Museum of Art-Arad 2016, Transformation – Muzeul Beelden Aan Zee, Haga 2014, BB6 (Bucharest International Biennial for Contemporary Art 2014, IEEB4 & IEEB7 (International Experimental Engraving Biennial, 2010, 2016), Now Art Now Future (The International Biennial of print – Vilnius, 2008), his artworks being part of private and state collections: Art collection Luciano Benetton (IT), Alain Servais Collection (BE), Avium Art Collection (RO), Daniel Stefanica Art Collection (RO), Nasui Art Collection (RO), Herczeg Art Collection (RO), Calina Art Collection (RO), DFEWA Art Collection (DE), The Visual Art Museum, Galați (RO), the Florean Contemporary Art Museum, Baia-Mare (RO), the National Museum of Art, Satu Mare (RO).


Organizing: Galeria Uj Kriterion

Sponsors: Alutus, Perla Harghitei, Bookart Kiado

Media partners: Agentiadecarte.ro, Radio România Cultural, ArtClue, Revista ARTA, Modernism.ro,

Revista Zeppelin, ArtWall