Curator Erwin Kessler.
Miere de Spin
Vioara Bara este pictor. Vioara Bara este femeie. Ar fi simplu să o numeşti -neutru- pictor-femeie aşa cum cere gramatica corect politizată, care recomandă să o consideri un pictor ca oricare altul, al cărui gen doar este feminin. Numai că Vioara Bara este mai degrabă femeie-pictor, un pictor care pictează cu femeia dinăuntru, ca şi cum aceasta ar fi o enormă pensulă înzestrată cu tot ceea ce poate să însemne o femeie, de la bust la pubis pînă la afectivitate şi isterie, de la maternitate la absurditate. În aparenţă, Vioara Bara pictează cu culoare, dar în realitate ea pictează doar cu feminitate, acea umanitate ireductibilă care uneori este uimitoare ca un miracol iar alteori este uimitoare ca o oroare.
Reinventarea sinelui mitic al artistului, deşi pare atăt de regresiv acum, a fost o provocare şi un risc asumat în acei ani 80. Pe atunci, toate cele trei tendinţe majore ale artei locale se opuneau acestei reinventări a sinelui. Arta oficială era cu totul dedicată iconografiei acceptate, ce orbita în jurul sarcinilor propagandistice ale regimului, de la demonstraţii în favoarea comunismului, a conducerii de partid, pînă la portretele liderilor sau reprezentarea figuranţilor anonimi, constructorii societăţii socialiste multilateral dezvolatate – acestea erau subiectele obligatorii ale artei aliniate la cerinţele sistemului. Pe de altă parte, opoziţia neo-ortodoxistă emergentă în artă se ferea şi ea de sinele supradimensionat şi combativ, dar din raţiuni diferite, căci promova umilinţa şi reţinerea ca strategii iconografice centrale în contrarea voracităţii figurale rutiniere a regimului. Deşi mai puţin influent, dar foarte respectat intelectualmente, curentul conceptual şi neo-constructivist împiedica şi el dezvoltarea unei arte fixate în jurul sinelui, căci favoriza demersurile artistice legate de ştiinţă, orientate spre produţie şi spre strategiile de operare în interiorul comunităţilor.
Vioara Bara is a painter. Vioara Bara is a woman. She could be easily called a woman-painter – neutral as it is, grammar would blandly tag her as a painter like all painters, except for that she is a female. Yet, Vioara Bara is rather a painter-woman. The painter she is paints mainly with the woman inside her, as if with an inner, huge brush endowed with everything a woman could possibly mean, from breasts and genitalia to emotion and hysteria, from motherhood to nuttiness. Outwardly, Vioara Bara paints with paint, but inwardly she only paints with womanity, that irreducibly feminine humanity that sometimes makes people marvel as if in face of a wonder, or sometimes as if in face of a blunder.
True to herself, Vioara Bara has been painting vioarabara paintings since her debut as an artist, during mid-1980s. Back then, she was amongst the very first Romanian (young) painters to embrace neo-Expressionism. She pertained to those who re-invented figurative painting after the crumbling down of both Socialist-realism and of its successor in Romania, the official painting, made under “social command”, to buttress the personality cult of the authoritarian rulers, during the last two decades of the Communist regime.
Together with such tormented figures as Aniela Firon, Vioara Bara was indeed on the wild-side of painting, not merely on the wild-looking side of art, that decorative flourishing of culturally hypertrophied egos characterizing the tempered re-modernization of Romanian art in the late 1980s. Her work was symptomatically paintful, hurled feelings and affronted viewers. Exaltation, frustration, anxiety, pleasure, desperation, disbelief, desire, everything was abruptly unpacked on the canvas, in brutal colors, twisted forms, and syncopated narratives. Like a huge, inverted bee, she fabricated honey out of loss, from the thistles and thorns of a life under the aegis of lack. Lack of everything: of freedom, of food, of love, of trust; yet not of expression.
If Expressionism didn’t exist, Vioara Bara would have invented it. She has not embraced it, but she has rather grown alongside it, as if feeding on a unique substance, the visually vociferous presence of a perplexed self asserting its being facing the deaf and blind surroundings: a colorful self, drawn on the background of a murky society. Each and every work of Vioara Bara displays the dialectics of anxious, screaming forms in the setting of uniform, creamy conditions.
The resurgence of the mythical self of the artist, as regressive as it might appear now, was a provocation and a risky innovation during the 1980s. Then, three different but complementary trends prevented it. On the one side, the official art of the time was entirely devoted to the allowed iconography revolving around the propaganda tasks of the regime. Mass demonstrations in favor of the Communist government, the portraits of the political leaders, as well as the figuration of the anonymous builders of the “progressive society” were de rigueur subjects of the art aligned to the system’s requirements. On the other hand, the emerging, politically and aesthetically oppositional, neo-Orthodox art was also eschewing the aggrandized and confrontational, hypertrophied self, as it mainly prompted humbleness and self-effacing as its central iconographic strategies of dissent from the regime’s figural, voracious routine. The less[er]influential, but intellectually respected, conceptual and neo-Constructive tendency also prevented the development of an ego-based art, as it favored the science-linked, production-oriented and community-targeting artistic endeavors.
Boastful egotism, such of Vioara Bara’s, was rare, radical, and revolutionary. Ground-breaking, her conspicuous complacency in the seemingly trifle facts of femininity, her blatant insistency to proffer the body, the belly, the yelling, the craving, the universal frailty, boosted a spanking new persona, not only an artistic and cultural psycho-drone, but a fleshy and flashy presence avowing the nuisance of inserting itself into a world unmade for womanity, humanity, individuality. From the authoritarian, male-driven milieu around her, Vioara Bara took the schizophrenic means of her sheer vulnerable art: the big-scale, demonstrative works, and the painterly, rhetorical self-indulgence in ostentatious craftsmanship.
The self as a misfit and the body displayed as a troubling, noisy carcass heavily contested the self-diminishing policies espoused by most of the Romanian artistic trends and brands of the time, so subtly convergent with the individuality-obliterating
The usually black or dark background onto which the fiery figuration of Vioara Bara’s characters unfolds is an accurate rendering of the no-exit universe of scrupulous repression, of the society as a dull curtain in the foreground of which frenzied figures squeak-out their passion, violence, fears, mystery, exaltation, dissolution, eroticism, failure – their overwhelming, irreducible humanity. The screen of social dusk appears as illuminated by the lightning of bursting crave. Imbricated, lubricated, luscious and lugubrious, her apocalyptical figures thrive in explosive color only to convey implosive, unbearable emotions. They howl, whirl, and hurt. Mold-tainted, with penicillium greens, yellows and blues, the contorted figural world of Vioara Bara seems simultaneously putrefying on canvas and proliferating in beholder’s mind. Later on, after the mid-1990s, her works thawed more and more into an eerie, light rose, as if a coat of melted candies asphyxiated them. Rose was her visceral visual response to the newly invading consumerism, the irresistible, overpowering abundance of almost everything imaginable, except happiness. As critical as the previous darkness of her works, the recent pervasive rose is nothing but the color blanket of the same general, social blackness, now with the specific pink blush of rampant consumption, today’s brand of lack, so aptly dressed as affluence.