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First solo show in Germany by Cluj based Romanian artist Simon Cantemir Hausi at Barbara Thumm Gallery
Installation view from the exhibition "Waiting for The Perfect Days" by Simon Cantemir Hausì.

By: Jane Neal

BERLIN.- Barbara Thumm Gallery presents the first solo show in Germany by Cluj based Romanian artist Simon Cantemir Hausì. The exhibition will feature selected works on paper and canvas.

The wildly beautiful landscape of the Romanian countryside is one the artist continues to return to, both physically and via his imagination. Sometimes Hausi reconjures scenes from his childhood: images of boys walking through a forest at night, or playing in a field during the day. At other times Hausi uses the countryside that he is so familiar with as a ground for the figures and animals that come to his mind as he lives and works in Cluj. These works have a visionary quality: the figures often appearing bathed in an otherworldly light, and the animals portrayed in a fashion that reminds the viewer of scenes found in late Medieval and early Renaissance paintings.

Hausi's mystical works nearly always involve nature. However instead of falling into sentimentality, an atmosphere of uncertainty and unease pervades his paintings. There is a sense that Hausi's subjects are being watched, perhaps surveyed; a feeling that continues to haunt the artist as a result of witnessing the harassment of his dissident father under Ceauşescu's rule. Long and strangely shaped shadows are a common motif among Hausi's paintings. These can be interpreted as a physical manifestation of the artist's memories of beauty marred by dark foreboding.

Symbolic beasts are also a constant in the artist's work. For Hausi, animals represent something magical in nature. Unlike humans they are not open to corruption or lies and thus represent pure versions of qualities humans strive for, such as strength, loyalty and peace. These works are often lighter – both in atmosphere and colour – and usually feature a strong light source.

In addition to being adept at drawing the viewer into his own, very particular, intense version of the world, Hausi delights in tracing the forms of his subjects – both in paint and pen and pencil. A superb draughtsman, there is a strong sense of line that persists throughout all Hausi's works – be they drawings, paintings or objects. Paradoxically, Hausi's sense of form is most apparent in the way he builds up colour or models light and shade in his two dimensional works. These are handled with the confidence of an artist who understands painting but who loves objects: delighting at holding them in his hands, turning them around and weighing or stroking them. There is an invitingly tactile nature to Hausi's paintings that reveals the artist's desire to be in haptically close contact with all around him. He paints as though he wants to communicate the feel of things, be they trees, rocks, the fur of an animal, the warmth of the sun or the depth of a shadow, rather than creating a copy of an image.

Hausi's palette is carefully chosen with the symbolic nature of the colours he works with in mind. Light filled areas are built up in impastoed layers of lemon yellows and joyous pastels, whereas the hollows of the forest and valleys are a cross weave of burnt umbers, prussian blues and deep blue-blacks, suggesting dark and possibly threatening activity. Colour is used like a series of weights, the artist carefully balancing lights and darks to signify mood and the evocation of the benign or the malefic. Consequently the tension in Hausi's work is tangible, as it plays out in the choice morsels of colour and form that he 'feels’ should be there; again reinforcing the uniquely haptic quality of his painting.

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