Mircea Nedelciu

Ion Dumitriu – A Painter Experiencing The Wholeness

The multiple modifications the contemporary man’s perception had to undergo, some of them completed, many being experienced, and others hardly imagined, makes an artist, preoccupied with creating and not with producing (sometimes reproducing), gain a powerful conscience of sign mutation. The various and famous studies on the changes human being had to put up with in its meaningful relationship with the world (McLuhan, R. Berger, Scobeltzino, etc.) give rise to some of the most troubling questions over the future of the species, over the role art has in the mankind’s surviving. Therefore, there are artists in whose work such questions exist before any kind of message or technique, and the inherent diversity of means only hides, for a too lazy thought, their community of action. One can make spectacular recognitions, from the viewpoint above mentioned, between poetic and cinematographic approaches, pictorial and prose-like, dramatic and sculptural, but all in the same context of the time being in which authenticity falsely opposes tradition and in which sub-productions can easily be covered by great and noble ideas (although misappropriated). That is why one of the moral duties an artist of this epoch has is to permanently express the possible being of those recognitions.

The process by which artistic sign is transformed under the pressure of the present and for an active integration in it appears to be as an exemplary one in Ion Dumitriu’s painting.

Ion Dumitriu paints in a space (which is not only a "model" to him) of plastic shapes which is very old in our conscience (Poiana Marului – a Romanian mountain village) and he brings us back paintings whose novelty bears witness for the eternity of that space.

Poiana Marului is a rather isolated village in Brasov County; life goes on here with no intercession, in a natural environment, and, for this reason, it appears to show some difficulties that can only be overrun through man’s total commitment; it is a village that can be assimilated to the primordial village, but it is extremely alive today as well. In this respect, Poiana Marului is a place in which wholeness keeps being experienced. That is why its choice made by several painters for prospect would bring no shadow to the authenticity of any of them, as the experience of this whole space accepts no matter how many artists, each standing for an authentic one. (See, in this context, Horia Bernea and Teodor Rusu).

Ion Dumitriu’s series (study directions), which I estimate are four in number, can also be cyclically located for interpretation, which would mean a confirmation of the intuition of the outer space. Yet the sharp conscience of the present makes the artist accept disturbances in a significant way and it is only at that stage that it becomes distinct.

Thus, images that would normally be landscapes contain numerous elements that link them to the other series. These elements were introduced with certain reasons, strict signs of man’s interference, by his work, in nature, signs of the natural processes (under man’s control or not). For instance: houses or barns are almost all the time present in his landscapes. By a certain plastic solution, they are situated so as to fit into the landscape. However, in the key points of the image, we rediscover (indistinctly) an almost abstract drawing of a peeled off, patched up or newly built wall or the scaffolding of an unfinished roof, which clearly sends the viewer’s mind, by its geometry, to the logical and law related principles of how life is going on in this space.

In the second series (walls, doors and barn gates are now placed in the foreground), we are dealing with buildings to whose geometry one finds quite impossible to give an exact interpretation in the absence (just like an accident) of a sign of man’s intervention (the patching up) or of nature’s (the grass grown around). It is to be noted here a very subtle interplay of plans (almost everything is in the foreground) with a view to creating a seeming opacity that may oblige the thought to look for an "other side" and to mandatory lean on the next stages of the exhibition.

The itinerary continues with some so-called still lives that appear to be located inside (in the barn or in the house, in the pantry or in the attic). Although, by the choice of objects (fruit – such as apples, pieces of bread recently baked, sometimes dry plants or flowers for which we hardly guess a useful purpose as a remedy or nourishment) as well as by the play of framing and of the "arsenal", by choosing the light, they become stages of the universal cycle and not only of the pictorial itinerary which our sight is guided to. It is significant that both the apples of a very dark red and the huge and rough pieces of bread are placed in wooden pots (like trough or flour chest) that are similar in shape and different in size and that these pots are supported by a chair or a wooden bench, and they are not put on a table or directly on the ground. Light makes us hesitate; were these images taken inside, behind the wall or the closed door (from the paintings of the previous series) or outside, opposite them?

If we accepted this sequence of series, we would feel like being guided from the fresh landscape of a mountain peak in the close vicinity of the sky, at the back of the house, through the barns (never through the forefront, as there are no "frontages" in these paintings), to a hidden mysterious place, where we should meet an unwitnessed thing. Human presence is powerful and persistent in everything (so far), still not all displayed. We cannot see human faces or silhouettes, but only tracks, signs, prints of a very strong man, which is temporarily or perhaps by chance absent. At the place we have been escorted to (something extraordinary will come out of there!), we find out (and this would be the fourth series) the germinated potatoes. By the light, we may tell for sure we are somewhere inside. The shape (as there are not only germinating potatoes, but also some beets and some uncertain shapes reminding of the rough slices of bread of another painting) and frame are meant to deepen the connection to the previous series, but the dramatic colors (the black background of the white-pink germination) makes that the human absence is for the first time likely to be felt. Had not the other series existed, these images would have been frightening. A mere hope seeming to accompany them is suggested by the sown fields, the houses and the heaps of stable waste from the "landscapes". A natural germination, although unlikely to be seen, is possible there (where the cycle might take back). However, here, where although visible it is not natural, germination is the sign of a possible threatening, lethal disturbance. A surprising levitation of a germinating potato is a proof that the only man who ventured his imagination up to this place is the painter himself and that his sign is an authentic one.

The paintings showing, at last, human faces (Child asleep in the grass and Child behind the cart) do not make up another series following the previous four – whose cyclic (re)placing is likely to happen – but concentrate all in an authentic powerful message, comprehensive and active.

Ion Dumitriu masters his style so well and makes it fit to his approach that, in each of his paintings, it turns into something different and becomes transparency. His ownership over the message he is sending us through his painted surfaces is indisputable and it makes his dialogue with other young contemporary artists (prose writers, why not?) preoccupied with the essential mutations in Romanian culture, be possible.
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