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Romanian artist stages 'forceful' show inside the vast palace of megalomaniac former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu
Romanian born artist Mircea Cantor attends the opening of his exhibition "Q.E.D" at the National Modern Arts Museum in Bucharest. AFP PHOTO DANIEL MIHAILESCU.

BUCHAREST (AFP).- For his first solo artshow in his native Romania, contemporary artist Mircea Cantor faced an outsized challenge: making his mark in the chosen venue -- inside the vast palace of megalomaniac former dictator Nicolae Ceausescu.

"This building is very powerful and I had to choose my most forceful artworks to face it", Cantor told AFP at the opening late Wednesday at the National Museum of Contemporary Art (MNAC) that now occupies the palace's west wing.

In a bold statement against Ceacescu's gargantuan ego, Cantor opened the exhibition by igniting writing in fire against one huge wall that read, in Latin, "Thus passes the glory of the world."

The show, titled QED (Latin for "which had to be demonstrated"), features 30 works by Cantor, who reworks ordinary objects to explore existential questions in the style of French artist Marcel Duchamp.

Born in Romania in 1977, Cantor has been rapidly rising in the international art world over the past decade.

In 2011, he won France's top contemporary art prize, the Marcel Duchamp award at the leading contemporary Paris art fair, the FIAC, and his works have been showcased in Paris, London, Rome, Tel Aviv and Philadelphia.

Staging his Bucharest show in what used to be a symbol of the Communist dictatorship that reigned in Romania when he grew up was a triumph for the artist.

"We can say this exhibition is first and foremost a conflict between the location, a symbol of human's stupidity, and the philosophy of Cantor's works of art", the director of the MNAC, Mihai Oroveanu, said.

The immense palace housing the MNAC and Romania's two houses of parliament is a staggeringly imposing edifice that stands as the second-biggest public building in the world, after the Pentagon in Washington.

Ceausescu ordered the palace built as a symbol of his power, naming it the "People's House" despite the irony of razing three quarters of Bucharest's historic centre to clear space for it.

The dictator was overthrown and killed in December 1989, before the palace was finished.

The MNAC is to host Cantor's QED show for a year.

© 1994-2013 Agence France-Presse

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