Laurian Popa / Dysfunctional / CAV Bucharest / Center for Visual and Multimedia Arts / 2019 / exhibition view

Present, Soft Objects
About This Project


Laurian Popa’s laboratory utilizes as working material just about every single thing he encounters during his daily routine. This sort of stubborn objects, once integrated into the intimacy of living space, stick to the very existence of the owner and force him to carry them all life long. Once on a canvas, the artist decomposes the objects by employing several strategies: random associations, over or under sizing the objects and freeing them from their ordinary purpose. Stripped of their meaning, nude in their dysfunctionality, they become a starting point for the chromatic settling of the composition. The shadows spread both towards the tridimensional depth of space and towards the canvas surface itself and the artwork becomes increasingly falsely realistic and more abstract as the objects end up by admitting their status as junk. Finally, in between these (small remains of) objects, Laurian Popa inserts pieces of polystyrene of irregular shapes and fixes latex stains to the canvas. Afterwards he sprayed everything as if a disrespectful graffer had just passed by.
When the polystyrene pieces are real objects, he wraps them up in colorfully printed decorative textiles and fixes them on the walls as a sort of complementary or counterpoint elements in relation to the artworks on display. It is the perfect excuse for Laurian Popa to recycle an iconic image from the living space in the block of flats: the small curtain hanging from under the sink playing a double role, an esthetical one – to embellish the kitchen – and a functional one – to cover the garbage bin.
It is even easier to highlight this practice in Laurian Popa’s animation. The objects displayed here are pieces of something, reconstructed discharged stuff, shapes that mimic a gear while still pseudo-functional and perfectly useless. This uselessness is absorbed by the mechanics of movement, like that of a scratched vinyl that rotates on a turntable in a loop, and amplified by the sound design which alternates the noise of the material each object is made of and the staccato rhythm of the industrial production chain.
A similar diagnosis has already been confirmed, though in another part of the world. In García Márquez’s famous Macondo, the villagers struck by a bizarre disease affecting their memory started having trouble remembering the names of objects. Later on, even though they labeled the objects, they have to face another question: What this object called chair is used for? In fact, just like in Laurian Popa’s hypnotic work, the world around us is coherent only to the extent to which we are willing to project meaning where otherwise there wouldn’t be but a pile of (dis)functional objects. A world on the verge of being sunk under the quicksand of forgetfulness.

Dan Lazea