Facelook: an in-depth view

Diana Ursan

Florica Prevenda is a presence that stands out in Romanian contemporary art: trained as a painter before 1989, active in the artistic educational system, from an early stage in her career she directed her efforts towards the international art scene, without forsaking the local one. The Facelook exhibition at AnnArt marks the beginning of her representation by a Romanian art gallery, the point from which the two lines – the local / the international – go entwined, signifying in the background the opportunity to fill the gap between the structures of the Western art market and the local one.

Florica Prevenda has a substantial oeuvre, randomly known in Romania, but distinctive through the specific features of her artistic practice – mainly developed towards transgressing the art of painting[1], using collage and assemblage of unconventional materials[2], with an iconography evolving around the human face and shape, varying between anonimous and autobiographical representations - supported by her impecable professional discipline. With a strong presence, striking on a visual and tactile level, the assemblage-painting practiced by the artist reiterates contemporary art’s main issues: the complex relations between 2D and 3D, the manuallity of the artistic act versus working in conceptual series that symbolically address the multi-layered conexions between the self/individual and the others/society, between real and virtual identity, in the accelerated, chaotic context of technologically–mediated, globalising and extatic communication[3].

Her most recent series, Facebook Obsession, exhibited at AnnArt, coherently inserts into the artist’s past endeavor, always expressing a form-meaning unity: from the central theme of the face in the Faces without a Face series, 1999, extended on a relational level with Net People, 2001, to the connections between time and the human being in Shadows of the Present, 2004, or Time Regained, 2008. While we travel forth in time through Florica Prevenda’s creation, the visual signs gradually leave the pictorial surface, the matter multiplies in relief and the resulting visible network supports lucid visions of the present psycho-social context. In Facebook Obsession, human faces and shapes built from overlapping unities and material elements are represented alongside the well-known trademarks of the most successful XXIst century social network. Although the title may evoke negative connotations, Prevenda practices a detached “look” upon the contemporary exploded phenomenon of communication, accepting its occurrence, dissemination and growth as inevitable consequences of the human mind’s creativity and resourcefulness.

[1] Adrian Guță remarks the acute 3D nature of the artist’s works: “The pictorial surface and vision represent the foundation, but we no longer deal with painting in a traditional acceptation but with real painted objects, like places of meeting of different materials and effects.”,  in “Shadows of the Present”, in Observator Cultural, no. 205, 2004.

[2] Ruxandra Balaci writes about the multitude of media used by Prevenda in the manner of Surrealist grattages-frottages – Max Ernst trademarks – engaged in exploring the unconscious, in “Florica Prevenda...the endless desire to paint”, in the catalogue of the exhibition Faces Without a Face, at the National Museum of Art, Bucharest, 1999.

[3] Jean Baudrillard describes the “ecstasy of communication” specific to the contemporary world – the network, conexions and contact era – in which the subject is like a sheer screen onto which is projected information, communication and images, in “The Ecstasy of Communication”, in Postmodern Culture, Hal Foster (ed.), Bay Press, 1983, pp. 126-134.