Revista Arta (11)
Aurelia Mocanu | 2014

By invoking the human shadow, Florica Prevenda’s large suites of pictorial  representations bear witness, paradoxically, to her stoical and poetic capacity of withdrawal from the mundane. Passionate dedication is built into the material creation of the pictorial body invented by her: layered densities, a coloured trace on deposits in relief, shaped by fingers, aerated, spun, interwoven, cased in. I can hear matter germinate - in a muffled toccata for organ, I once wrote - on grooves and tracks which invoke, in mandala style, the outlines of the face. It is, actually, a “plastic” exercise in questioning the spirit of time, one which is threatened by depersonalisation and consumerist reification.

For a decade and a half, the painter Florica Prevenda has shown commendable tenacity in her artistic research of a subject matter which is gaining depth in terms of procedure and conceptual range with every exhibition. From the fundamental theme of the Faceless Face (The National Museum of Art, 1999), to the diagram of the metropolitan crowd (Shadows of the Present, Simeza, 2004) and the multiplied Self (Time Regained, Mogoșoaia Palace, 2008), the painter draws inspiration, along a minimally figural series, from the magma of emotions and anxieties which haunts the human condition of the current era. The powerful existentialist and ethical message in Florica’s painting is embodied in the very layers, grooves, overlays and coatings of the matter-tones. Of great importance for her creations is the balance between the textural procedures which she applies, consonantly, to the levels of introspection born from her experience with images. How hard can one work the layer density of the picture, in order for the painstakingly laid matter to foster mystery, beyond it? When summoned to convey loneliness and communication breakdown, the visual psychodrama benefits from a specific approach, from one exhibition cycle to the next. The “face” of 1999, devoid of physiognomies and of facial expressions, captured a prehuman type of anxiety. Later, in 2004, the “present of the urban hordes” glorified multi-material reliefs: cases and networks, the zigzagging rhythms of corrugated cardboard, planes of figures or schematic eyes and palms, interlacing festoons made of paper strips or painted canvas. The volumetric frenzy dies down in 2008, the pictorial surfaces are levelled for the sake of the photographic approach pertaining to self-portraiture. Her own face, captured mostly by the eye of an external camera, is flattened in post-tornado fashion. Artistic expression takes the form of compositional decoupage, almost invariably on a black and white scale.

The artist does not perform a narrative script as such. Nor does she compose according to  the rhetoric effects of the geometrical abstract. I do not think she has leafed through diagrams of analytical mechanics, but she traces and permutates a number of vector fields with obstinacy and perfectly empathic dosage. The grooves and small grainy ridges, which tend to tilt from left to right at 30 degrees, become “Prevenda trademark” gradient vectors. Perhaps there is, somewhere, a retinal residue of the graphic tension of scalar fields perceived at a subliminal level, while browsing the Internet, during this creative period devoted to the addictive Facebook. Prevenda creates, or, more accurately, deposits visually tactile matter, like ashes of her own emotions, over digitised effigies of the presence of The Other. The more recent theme of the faces posted on social networks has a new graphic scheme, developed from the fluid and generic stylisation of a “mug”, reminiscent of the religious representations found at Nicula monastery: the two eyes joined by a flowing loop to the nose, an elongated omega, like an anonymous identity hallmark. Then, the heart-shaped and wavy ellipse of the mouth is given privileged treatment in individual paintings. The mouth in profile, lips slightly apart in unspoken utterance or the listlessly sullen, downturned mouth, are the emblems, the receptacles of the conversational moment which Florica invokingly explores for authenticity. The pupil and the gaze under the darkened eyebrow are other “powerful” trademarks of the Truth-Face, employed in the series of face decoupages of the Facebook cadence.

In Prevenda’s big, new and bright atelier, skulls have germinated, too, that is to say a 3D inventory of the shadow of a hidden face, the one without a declared identity, from the maelstrom of online encounters. They are a type of tuber, of elongated skull, like oversized microphone heads, in a full summery colour scheme. Colour - from inky cobalt to vermilion - is infused into the artwork by Florica with renewed feverishness. Warm, fruity, lusty hues echo the genus of advertising, in agreement with the digital medium currently interrogated by her.

“Faceless Faces” takes the painful issue of authentic communication to a new level of complexity, after 15 years. It is a series of panel-canvases characterised by profound emotional combustion and also by inventive craftsmanship but never by decorative-playful tendencies. Prevenda crafts by sequencing materials, as in an incantation, on the classic plane of the painting. She reins in rather than extols the non-finite of the Arte Povera, the informal, the collage as vestige. The bark, the leather, the scales, the scars, the vectors and the ridges molded in the colour-paste create a rich, almost hypnotic  pictorial texture by dispensing with the inconsequential. The growth of the images and of the materials which carry them, the densification of the surfaces build, symbolically speaking, a niche for introspection for the artist. The surface is overworked to near saturation level and is symbolically smoking with so much interrogative charge. Florica Prevenda has a brand of professional discipline which has gained full recognition over the last fifteen years when she was represented and showed her work in several European and North-American galleries. With the her first solo exhibition at AnnArt, she now proposes a new visibility for the Romanian art audiences as well.