Casting an eye upon the reality-bending paintings of Robert Veres, one can instantly summon a colourful cast of recurrent visual tropes. Celestial elements confront the nature of time, and explore the possibility of movement. Their presence or telling absence invite a play of the known and the unknown. Instances of common emotion are locked within uncommon tableaux, resulting in organic matter being dislocated, violently restructured and extended by man-made objects and materials. This new order re-imagines materiality in a manner that celebrates life, while ironically announcing decay.
Veres’ imaginary universe is seemingly colonised by undone characters, modelled on human corporeality, but presenting traces of monstrosity. At all times, the landscape is overburdened with abstract figures and abject anatomies that refuse categorisation and escape normativity. From self-inflicted wounds to traces of bodily decay, hybrid forms are as freeing as they are suppressing: they mark a ritual transition into another form of existence. The human body is defined by liminality, with lingering humanity and emergent monstrosity striving for manifest authority. Questions of agency and control are central, as the bodily tendency towards gesture and movement is being restricted.
When violence is present, it is not an act, but a structural component, seemingly necessary to the order of a universe that appears to be conspiring to its own demise: a demise hidden under a deceitful vitality of colour and movement.
Borders and margins are explored and, at times, crossed, with an implicit ‘beyond’ announced by shapes and elements that echo borders and boundlessness with the possibility of escape. Unknown waters, treacherous sky, defective Suns and Moons that cannot abide by their own functionality: they all produce placelessness, invite chaos and refuse symmetry. The artist, however, attempts to tame this world, by making technical choices: lines, details and recurrent patterns stand in as an epistemological tool, an attempt to explore meaning.
In El Cavallo, several dimensions of meaning collide: the organic and the political clash under a voyeuristic examination of an unknown external being. The inherent freedom of the biological is crippled by structures of the political, which, in turn, respond to nature-driven requirements. The central figure - The Horse - is depicted in a toga, echoing the dictatorship encapsulated in Gabriel Garcia Marquez’s 1975 Spanish novel, Autumn of a Patriarch.
Political structure and power, and the implication of immortality are, just as in Marquez’s novel, hampered by organic decay. The chess-board ground resonates with an epistemic tension, another collision of the known and the unknown: the figures in chess have no agency over their movement, but there are, however, rules that predicate their future. Anxiety, uncertainty, restricted mobility, and adversity inhabit this piece, which speaks to the entire oeuvre of the artist.
Childhood Dreams of Sand Dunes
Childhood Dreams of Sand Dunes follows the voyeuristic stance present throughout the artist´s body of work. The eye is present to reflect and announce the dream - to produce or make it disappear. The perpetually open eyes are present in this piece, as it draws on an overburden of consciousness, an inverted dream, which coexists with its counterpart - a non-dream. The dream contains an ontological necessity of sleep, the condition for the ‘other’ world to invade, replace and enrich this world.
The central natural element in the piece is the sand dune, a reproduction ad infinitum of a natural state: sand will never become anything else. The scattered light bulbs are a trace of human activity, which effortlessly produces a more refined, yet more vulnerable, version of sand: glass. The barren landscape is weighed against a symbol of fertility: the female bust. The female body is, however, butchered, grotesquely reduced to as few elements as needed to be recognised. Once again, a reflection on the world is offered, not without the binary setting for criticism: technical progress and pure nature, life and death, light and darkness, power and powerlessness.
Words: Elena Larisa Stanciu
Artwork: Robert Veres