FLORICA PREVENDA ...the endless desire to paint

Contrapunct (4-6, 1999)
Ruxandra Balaci

FLORICA PREVENDA ...the endless desire to paint
"La peinture ne peut survivre que par une analyse conceptuelle l'autorisant a jouer autrement de son histoire" propoded de Maurizio Calvesi in his "anachronistic" context of the early '80s, as a possible solution to "the end of art.
C'est a dire, to rethink painting within new contexts, under different auspices, to re-address its - classically dead - formulas, attesting de facto its doubtless revival.
Originating in abstract expressionism and art informel Florica Prevenda's painting operates on two surprisingly disjunctive levels: one lyrical-figurative, the other moderate-abstract. Both center round a sole motif: the silhouette, the outline of the humanoid face. "The Face without a Face" (to name it this way, since having no name): the mask of the self, of the inner endlessly multiplicable ego.

Florica Prevenda's "Faces without a Face " are vaguely reminiscent of:
-Baselitz, who ever since 1969 has ironically decided to paint his figures upside down, in attempt to grant importance not to the motif itself but mainly to painting, gestures, materiality;e
-the ecliptic schematism of Klee's, Paolozzi and Mimo Paladino's humanoids (conceived in a more graphic mode);
-Appel, except for his booming colors;
-Jean Fautrier's "Têtes de Partisans" and "Otages" (these too, pictorial and without a face);
-Mitroi, this singular figure of Romanian contemporary art, whose "Portraits" humanoids (with incisive-pathetic eyes) suggest a paradoxical art brut soigné;
... and yet still of others (e.g. The Neolithic primitives) ...of every one and precisely of no one...

"The Face without a Face" might be the shadows, the double, the interior with facets and variants; indefinite, cryptic , archetypal, physiognomically un-individualized but pictorially individualized alter ego reverberating emotions.
The rich, contradictory éxperience interieure  revolves around this exclusive, redundant, obsessive motif.
The "Face without a Face" are imprints, emotional grafts, "improvisations" in a musical and Kandinskyan way, sensors of intense feelings: serene, somber, funereal, distressed, subtle, evanescent, febrile, optimistic, tonic (rarely), playful, pathetic, sad, calm, moody...
The ego's reflection remaines obscured (subliminal). The obstruction of communication, non-communication, the reclusion (the gazeless, opaque eyes, the sole central motif - the ovoid as a close form equivalent to the geometric carcer, symbol of reclusion, captivity, dead-end) are although painfully suggested. The overwhelming solitude - either constraining, distressing or beneficial, creative, frenzied-bespeaks of the profundity and uniqueness of feelings.
The blind mask with the blankness of its gaze acts as a matrix of emotions, as pattern of the innerself.
The endlessly multiplicable monodical structure pervaded by n shades and accents is somehow similar to Monet's demarche in capturing the distinctive impressions in the"Cathedral" series and "Cliffs at Etretat".
Form and emotion reciprocate, being equivalent within the image...

The unexpected double formal hypostasis envisaged by Prevenda is on the one hand evolving from a neo-figurativism where the Face is freely worked in impasto, in an intuitively organic manner (sometime the artist paints with her eyes closed), according to kind of jocund sensual intro-extroversion.
Somehow analogous to the "hypnagogic state" - the surrealist technique which reveals the intimate, mysterious alchemy of creation. (Prevenda actually employs most of the techniques, pour explorer le hasard: frottage, tachisme, collage, action painting, a.s.o).
On the other hand, whilst preserving the motif of the Face, the theme of non-communication, reclusive on and loneliness is emphasized, both expression and form being rationalized by means of a self censure, correction, obstruction, severe painting of the playful impulses that lead to a type of abstraction not exempt of the ornamental.
(A propos of rethinking painting: abstraction versus figuration is a nonchalant manner, being only a double  outlet.)
From a "matieriste" standpoint, the first option is rendered by an extrovert, expressive lyrical gestualism opposing its perfect complement, in the second option, the subdued, repressed structured gesture, perverting the initial incredible spontaneous approaches.
According to the first option: "Paint bears physical record to the expression of the human hand. It conforms to the trial of the brush being driven by the impulses of the psyche. In not other medium is creation more permanently and intimately bound to the movement of the human body" (Jonathan Lasker)
The multiple layers and textures, amalgamated and juxtaposed in an exhilarated "delirium" are organically perceived as the skin, flash, concretions, as the inti mate vibrations of painting...
L'image surgit de la matière même de la peinture,  à la fois opaque et transparente, dans des tons blues On the other hand, whilst preserving the motif of the Face, the theme, roses, verts-pales, gris, daunt la douceur s'intégre, paradoxalment avec la consistance matieriste de l'oeuvre.
Sensualities, gesture, virulence, fertility are re-displayed by means of écboussures, giclées, mélanges, effleurements, gouttes, trance-like handlings, drippings, impastos, scratches, colltage, goffrages, in a gourmet-gourmande pictorial bulimia, poised by etheral refinements and nuances, suggestive of Max Ernst's grattage-frottages: "la matiere en venant en aide aux facultes méditatives et hallucinatoires". 

Through an endless exercise of informing, dominating, imprinting, appropriating  the material, the artist is eventually  coming to be dominated by it. Prevenda re-invents the substance, the structure, the pigment: e.g.  On the other hand, whilst preserving the motif of the Face, the theme e.g. The goffered paper is transformed into aerial golden leaf or carbonized parchment (On the other hand, whilst preserving the motif of the Face, the theme reminding Cesar's reliefs-tôle); colloidal transparent wax, lint, linen, seeds, filing - employed less as allogenic elements - are alchemically blended, mixed and turned to pure pictorial texture.
Wether the first option deals with a sensitive approach of - the pictorial, tangible, voluptuously balanced - matter, the second option develops an interest in the cautiously prepared area, leading to organized structures, achieving the ornamental arrangement of the same unique motif.
The same materials are employed. But loneliness and reclusion are largely (and may be excessively) invoked by the barbed-wire ("the injunction to touch " is pendant to the overly visual-tactile challenge in the first option) and by the dominant scale of bluish greys (depression). Transposed, "stylized" as circle or avoid, the main Face-motif is accordingly harder to be detected.
Excessive passion are restrained, "inserted" within all to sophisticated contexts. One can feel the restraint of the piano player, of his alert improvisations, as well as endeavor to moderate the unbound emotions, the sensual lavishness; the pictorial "insane delirium" is reduced, restrained.
Most likely such compulsions are mandatory as a counterbalance to the inner turmoil and overflow. The equalizing grey - "the grey nullity - the degree zero of painting" (Adrian Searle) serve as compensatory articulations of silence, quieting the chromatic resonances, acting as sedative, as apparent cooling of the paroxysm, nervous exhaustions, of subconscious prolific outbursts.
The repetitive compulsive reworking of some motifs gains authority by means of the frenzied gesture and pictorial freedom.
The presence-absence of the "Face without a Face" is carried towards abstraction and back, towards figurative. (Another possible variant of the reversibility of the passage- explored by Beuys- from the chaotic, fluid and warm material to the cold, structured, crystalline form.)

Florica Prevenda seems to experience her own liberty and the unbound fecund creative state in frustrating way; somehow embarrassed by her own pictorial pathos she offers in return the "coercive alternative" which is deliberately preferred as the acknowledgment of order an rational calm.
Classicizing the equation, the ineffable creative and mysterious lyrical pictorialism is opposed to an Appolonian well-balance, comme il faut...concreteness of forms.
Lorsqu'elle n'estpas comme il faut, Florica Prevenda revels in fact own best...

English version by Cristina Panaite