Rooted in a deeply felt appreciation of life, the art of Robert Veres has conceptual struggle, deliberate contradiction and youthful refusal at its core. Tagging his works with the words ‘Long Live Life’, at first sight, you may indeed witness a burst of life-affirming visual exuberance. A second look, however, will undoubtedly make you wonder if there is something in there that escapes your gaze.
His paintings will make you squint, step back and look again. The ever-expanding universe created will greet you - its inhabitants carrying your doubt into the very fabric of their existence. Familiar forms and grotesque figures will appropriate your thoughts and your silence, as they accommodate disbelief and hesitation.
Daring and thought-provoking, his work enacts its own visual language, comprising elements defined by refusal and resistance. From intention to execution, Veres’ artistic process challenges established conceptual frames and embraces an ever-present ‘other’, touching on various levels of possibility, in search for answers, or well-constructed questions.
Veres’ art is always a provocation - of structure and norm related to the process of looking. He aims to create an epistemological tension at the edge of seeing, which proposes interrogation rather than recognition, doubt rather than certitude. By challenging the assigned role of the beholder, Robert´s works offer endless possibilities for enduring questions: How do we know what we know, and how can we be sure of anything around us?
Meeting with the artist as he travels from his native Romania to Denmark - where he lived and worked for a time as a freelance visual artist - I was curious to see how this inescapable relation inhabits his discourse, as he reflects on his own artistic processes.
Elena Larisa Stanciu: First things first, who are you?
Robert Veres: I’m a human being figuring out how to appreciate and live life. My name is Robert Veres.
ES: And where do you come from?
RV: I’m from Romania, from a small town called Hunedoara, born into the transition-generation (children born during the demise of Communist Romania) of 1988.
ES: How does this influence you? Socially, politically, emotionally, artistically…
RV: Politically, I try to be as neutral as possible despite my college education in political sciences, but Leftist ideas do appeal to me more than any other ones, especially the ideas expressed by Guy Debord and Raul Vaneigem. These two thinkers sparked something in my mind that has been growing ever since, making me see the world in a clearer way than ever before. Of course, you can’t live life seeing only one side of the coin, that’s why the seed planted by their ideas has been shaped by events from my own life, firmly establishing themselves in my being. You should strive towards self-realisation. Artistically, I started drawing towards my senior year in high school and took up painting in 2012 when I moved to Copenhagen. Ever since, manifesting ideas became second nature to me.
ES: Throughout your artistic process, you give a lot of freedom to the work itself, allowing “the story to reveal itself as the painting develops.” Have you ever felt the need to intervene and change the story?
RV: I do feel the need to intervene sometimes by inserting elements that appeal to me. It may change the meaning of the painting in the long run, but my main approach is still one where I let the painting develop. It’s like something unconscious is materialising in front of you, and when that happens, you feel obliged to let it develop by its own means. After that you feel like a psychoanalyst analysing a dream, trying to give it an explanation based on previous experiences.
ES: What inspires you the most? Does it come from within (memories, dreams, etc) or do you respond to what surrounds you?
RV: Responding to everything that surrounds you is essential. In this fast-paced world that we live in, it’s difficult to really let go of distractions and just be in the present. Observing is the key. By this you can capture the most of what is around you.
ES: Your paintings remind me of the surrealist painter, Dali. Do you find your perspective, process or inclinations are close to his?
RV: I get that remark often. I see it as part of a process of creativity, maybe I happen to identify with his perspective and part of his inclination. Knowing how to paint like Dali is something that many strive for. I connected with his work in part because what the Surrealists tried to achieve through the visual, the Situationists tried to achieve in the social and political; this is the key of understanding why I like Dali, at least for me.
ES: What relationship do you have to your own art? Do you need your art or does your art need you?
RV: In some cases after the painting is finished I no longer need it. You paint it and afterwards it becomes just another manifestation of creativity. However, the feeling of painting another canvas is very energetic. It conjures up in your mind a sense of adventure, of going to uncharted territories in your creativity. In this sense I could answer yes to the fact that I need my art because it’s such a pleasant thing to do, the whole process is a journey that I enjoy taking.
ES: Your paintings feature monstrous and grotesque characters - are you ever surprised by how they end up?
RV: I’m always surprised although I must say that I do not see them as monstrous or grotesque.
ES: The human body seems to be a central trope in your works - either represented in its normative beauty, or twisted and turned into a different species. How do the bodies in your painting participate in exploring or creating meaning?
RV: The human body - twisted or not - serves as a familiarising element in the composition as well as a centre of attention.
ES: You also use photography as a medium in your artistic expression. Would you say you are a painter or a photographer?
RV: I like photography but I do not call myself a photographer. The reason why I like it is because it gives you the opportunity to capture fleeting moments in time and space if you are observing correctly; of course there is also planned photography where you have a certain control over the elements allowing you to express yourself fully. I do think that it helps me expand my vision over things, and besides all this, it’s just a fun way to create.
ES: What do you think people feel or think about when they see your works?
RV: A few people that I have talked to at my exhibitions understood what I wanted to say, they even helped me to better understand what my images have brought out for them. I do believe that people should spend more time in front of paintings, letting go of the fast-paced life and delve into that world… It’s a gallery, an actual space that exits in front of you. It’s not on your phone so you can scroll down for artwork saying “yes, it’s nice” while you watch it for a maximum of one second - an approach too often seen in our present age. The attention span should be broadened.
ES: Where did you exhibit? Do you have any future plans for exhibitions?
RV: I exhibited in a small gallery space in Copenhagen called Galleri Hest. For the moment I want to focus on finishing my projects. I am currently working on personal projects and some commissioned work - also a collaboration with a clothing company from my hometown of Hunedoara called Motiv, but when the time is right and a good idea comes to existence I would like to present it.
Read: Long Live Life -->
Words: Elena Larisa Stanciu
Artwork: Robert Veres