Following the success of the last year’s “Root and Branch“ show, the young Romanian artist Mircea Suciu (b. 1978) is having a second solo exhibition at Zeno X Gallery in Antwerp this spring. The exhibition is titled “Ship of Fools”, referring to a German satirical allegory published by the humanist and theologian Sebastian Brant in the late 15th century.
The notion of the “Ship of Fools” has a long history in the arts and literature ever since Plato’s time. The metaphor has served as a symbol of human ignorance and tragic nature of human existence for centuries. According to Suciu, there’s still a lot to be said about human shortcomings and desperate condition. “Ship of Fools” is still relevant. The world we currently live in doesn’t seem much different from that of the past. Humanity still drifts on an aimless boat ignorant of its course.
Fascinated by what he describes as “the absurd actions of man”, Mircea Suciu digs into our minds and souls trying to confront and to provoke, as most fools do. As stated in the press release: ‚The fool in society was often free to speak out and voice criticism without being censored, since people generally did not pay any attention to his words. He is not an average figure and observes the world from the sidelines. His words are not seen as an expression of logic or coherence, although one must often admit, that the fool speaks the clear truth. The fool and the artist might not be the same figure, but they have something in common, a desire to understand, to confront and to provoke.’
Suciu’s artistic research has always been socio-political and psychological orientated. He is particularly interested in the way the individual appropriates the behavior of the mass, and we often find reproductions of historical dramatic events integrated into his compositions for his characters to lose their identity in the crowd. This interest is largely provoked by Suciu’s experiences following the fall of the iron curtain in his native Romania, where “he witnessed the way people tried to reconstruct or rediscover their cultural and personal identity.“
In this exhibition, Suciu focuses specifically on the overspreading fear in today’s uncertain world – the fear of disasters, wars, nationalism, religious fundamentalism, and, most current, the fear of migrants. The artist recognizes that these fears terrorize us and enslave us wherever we might be situated in the world. Although Suciu emphasizes the anxiety, he does not depict horror or drama, but rather a tension expressed through postures and gestures of his characters.
A recurrent motif in this series of works is the chair. According to a Romanian expression, combined with a human head, the chair stands for wisdom. By introducing it as the bearer of such symbolism, the artist raises the question of critical thinking as a means to salvation. No, Suciu doesn’t offer answers, nor he seeks for them. He wonders and perhaps suggests, this way revealing his true existentialist position towards the given reality. The crisis we are currently experiencing will not, as it seems, end anytime soon, and Suciu’s suggestion is to use reason as a pilot to overcome the desperate condition of enslavement by fears. Like a true Sartrean, Suciu strongly believes that humans are essentially free, although warns that being free could cause dizziness. Still, the dizziness of freedom is far better than the one on board of Mr. Goodtrips.
The exhibition “Ship of Fools” runs until Monday, the 20 June 2016 at Zeno X Gallery.