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Turning heads in Red Bank, New Jersey
The paintings are installed on exterior walls in this historic town along the Navesink River

RED BANK, NJ.- New Jersey Museum of Contemporary Art opened its public art exhibition “HEADS” featuring 50 large-scale paintings by Romanian artist Dumitru Gorzo in Red Bank, New Jersey.

The paintings are installed on exterior walls in this historic town along the Navesink River and will be on view through October 14, 2012. A map of the 9 locations is available on the museum’s website.

Curated by the distinguished art critic, Marek Bartelik, the series of 4’ x 8’ paintings commissioned exclusively for this exhibition focuses on expressive, allegorical, strange, satirical, and futuristic heads that explore portraiture with a nuanced observation of the individual spirit.

The concentration on heads grounds the work in a universal feature of humanity, with eyes being the proverbial window to the soul. Gorzo's incorporation of varied styles and layers of abstraction illuminate the struggles resounding today for people throughout the world in a fight for human rights and freedom of expression.

The paintings unite to create a vibrant tableau intended to draw in the viewer and stimulate conversation with imagery that alternates between fantasy and reality. Some heads are informed by classical antiquity, some by the bright colors and strong brushstrokes inherent in Expressionism, some reflections of the artist's childhood memories in Romania, some eliciting angst, some adventurous —all of them evocative through the artist’s subjective interpretation for emotional effect.

The works are at once thoughtful, mischievous, deliberate, structural, radical, and exuberant. The colorful palette belies the artist’s serious challenge to provoke discourse about the universality of the human experience from both the art critics and the uninitiated public at large, straddling a delicate tightrope between academic conceit and sentimentality to effect sanction from two disparate worlds of thought. In the setting of a public art exhibition, Gorzo achieves this demanding act with aplomb.

Of special note is the K-12 companion curriculum with suggested studio lessons available for educators, also on the museum’s website. In an economic environment where arts in education is being slashed, NJMoCA’s public art exhibition provides a compelling art field trip with an unprecedented enrichment program that are both free of charge and accessible at the scheduling convenience of public and private schools throughout the state.

This is the first time in New Jersey that a landmark exhibition is being museum curated in a public setting outside museum gallery walls — a scholarly and provocative cultural experience that is free, open 24 hours a day, and accessible to everyone.

“HEADS” is equally important in its timeliness in the face of current world events, as it may be one of the last exhibitions in the United States to receive support from the Romanian Cultural Institute. On June 13, newly elected Romanian Prime Minister Victor Ponta passed an emergency order that would restructure the mission and management of the Romanian Cultural Institute and its 17 international branches. There has been an outcry heard around the world from thousands of Romanian artists and other cultural organizations like New Jersey Museum of Contemporary Art who are affected by the diktat. Norman Manea, a prominent Jewish Romanian writer and literature professor at Bard College, suggests, "It would be disastrous if the brutal practices and the arrogance of past and present politicians came to nefariously guide the destiny of culture."

The contemporary art world has taken a strong interest in emerging artists from Romania in recent years, and importance in the United States is building momentum. True to the mission of this young organization to foster emerging artists from an international curatorial field, New Jersey Museum of Contemporary Art identified Dumitru Gorzo, who has not had broad exposure outside of Romania and for whom this is the first museum exhibition in the United States.

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Turning heads in Red Bank, New Jersey

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