Dan Perjovschi

Dan Perjovschi is one of the most representative Romanian contemporary artists and, also renowned and valued abroad. His international prestige was once again confirmed by the last award he received – “Rosa Schapire Art Prize” from the Freunde der Kunsthalle association of the Kunsthalle Art Museum in Hamburg, Germany. This acknowledgement means that the Romanian
artist`s creations shall be included in the Museum`s collection. The award is of great importance as it was granted for the first time and the winner was nominated by one of the world`s best contemporary art experts. Dan Perjovschi`s exhibition may be visited between 15th October 2016 and 29th of January 2017 at the Kunsthalle Art Museum in Hamburg.

You are one of the contemporary Romanian artists most prized abroad and this fact is well known and certified by numerous prizes, recognitions and participations at the most important international events and art shows. Your success was confirmed naturally, gradually and the path you have built with solid steps is ongoing. What is your artistic element that has remained constant in time and represents in fact the pillar on which the world`s appreciation and popularity is based upon?

I am one of the Romanian artists who have an international career, but I am not the only one. We live in some interesting times and we can have more than a few types of success – financial, among the public or the critics etc. Romania currently has approximately 20 names of active and renowned artists on the international scene. This is a small miracle. Some of them live in Berlin or Paris. I live in Sibiu. My success has come gradually (I made my debut before the times that make ussuperstars this week and then next month we are forgotten). It took me ten years to get out of school and another ten to be able to find a plastic and conceptual language that would please me. After working for twenty years, success has emerged…

I like drawing. I draw in my notebook, on the walls of the great world museums, in a small artist run space in Heraklion or on the staircase of Negruzzi High School in Târgu Ocna. I loved to draw since my very beginning… for as long as I can remember.

How would you describe the contemporary art vibe of today? What is it that we lack?

We lack the institutional support. Any city has a state theater and philharmonics, but it doesn`t have a Kunsthalle (“white cube”) with staff and production budget paid by the state (the city hall or prefect’s office). In Romania there are no scholarships for individual creation or workshops spaces provided by the local administration. None of the candidate cities for the European Capital title (the long and the short list) have any investments in visual arts. There are no programs to reconvert communist industrial buildings into workshop or display spaces. The cities are building football stadiums and shopping centers.

There is no coherent cultural policy for visual arts, no fiscal thinking (as you may see all the freelancers are being crushed); there is no tax discount for artists or sponsors and their financial and time investments into art. There are no life annuities for artists (and if there are merit scholarships or places in the Academy, then these are awarded for the conservatory, Eminescian positions so to speak, and not for the revolutionary ones).

A painting by Grigorescu is better off than Dada. There are many good things in Romania (artists, projects, independent spaces and even commercial galleries), but the general emphasis is on the market (money, money and art fairs) and not on the research… What is that we lack in Romania? We lack investments in visual culture, theoretical research
and long term ambition. If we are to summarize the condition of the artist, it would look like this: no pension and no health insurance!

Why did you chose to live in Romania considering that your value and international recognition offers multiple opportunities in countries that are much more open from the cultural point of view?

I have invested here a lot of energy and time; we need critical and independent positions in this country, we need solidarity and support. I got used to living here (although, once every ten years the scene changes, the amnesia comes back and we start over, we drop things or, on the contrary, we come up with new and interesting ideas) with our madness, with the artistic motivation outside the art market.

Abroad everything is already built (there are still some questionable issues and this is why I am permanently invited to analyze them), on the other hand in our country everything is still to be done. And I am saying this with all due respect to those who spent their lives building remarkable cultural platforms in the 27 years of freedom so far. I love contradiction, greater contrasts, denser touches and the humor…either absurd or constant.

Lia Perjovschi (editor`s note – the artist`s wife) has produced in the 90s a contemporary art archive that didn’t include Romanian art, but art that was forbidden here for 50 years. Back then, we felt it was our duty to share the things we were discovering and seeing the big world with the small world of our country. We now feel the same. We are lucky toparticipate to the great artistic events of the world and we see how the international art is done and conceived from the inside; this is something that we also need to share here. It is also about mental comfort. There are no surprises here, although we are being shocked every day.


Continue reading in The Art of Living no. 16, an issue dedicated to contemporary art. DOWNLOAD