Marius Bercea: This Side of Paradise

The Art Encounters Foundation presents the most comprehensive solo exhibition in Romania by artist Marius Bercea (b. 1979, Cluj-Napoca), bringing together in Timișoara over 40 paintings and drawings created in the past 15 years in Cluj-Napoca and California. This exhibition is part of our core mission to bring forward the work of artists who have been more visible in art institutions abroad than in their native country Romania, emphasising at the same time their crucial role in the formation of a new generation of artists.

The last two-plus decades have seen Marius Bercea’s work visually and psychologically explore the places and people the artist encounters, reflecting on the discontinuities, parallels, and transformations that follow consumerism, capitalism, and migration. Bercea often fuses dichotomous views and creates the premises of a meeting point between fiction and reality, glamour and fragility, memory and oblivion, formulating questions that forge both a historical survey and an autobiographical incursion. As a result of these dense and recurrent interrogations, the whole painterly laboratory of the artist becomes an infinite territory of exploration, as the artist calls it, where the archive meets the accidental. The weaving of two geographical areas, Transylvania and California, generated the “Transylfornian” landscape, both a geographical trope and an identifying feature. The artist’s ongoing journeys to the west coast are always cluttered by collected stories, literary motifs, visual patterns, and fresh intuitions, which fuel his utopian scenery and his travels between two worlds.

The more recent paintings tackle a theme related to identity and time, corresponding to a particular moment, 30 years after the 1989 Romanian Revolution. The portraits represent a “graduation book” years after school ended and life began for a generation of people who no longer shared the same political and social reference points as the ones who lived through a revolution, transition, etc. Their allure suggests a personal limbo and a permanent state of social isolation, something that the artist calls a domestic labyrinth, populated by an “all dressed up and nowhere to go fashion opulence”. The title, This Side of Paradise, referencing the debut novel by American writer F. Scott Fitzgerald, outlines a similar struggle to come to terms with a disenchanted world.

In this exhibition, curated by Diana Marincu, the visual experience is driven mainly by the permanent dialogue between the large-scale paintings and the small cut-out moments of rapid observations that punctuate the display like a needle and thread, sewing together Bercea’s micro and the macro universes. The personal creative process is being revealed by means of two types of archives on display: there is the analogue, pre-internet studio work, featuring drawings, psychedelic watercolours, stencils, and dioramas; and there is the digital archive, corresponding to the internet age, influenced by the devices we use as extensions of our hands, including a series of on-the-road photos in the desert. The desert remains a terminus point, a proof of nature’s resilience and a geometrical abstraction, a reminder of the “nostalgia of belonging”, a significant structural element in Marius Bercea’s work.

Born in 1979 in Cluj-Napoca, Romania, Marius Bercea received both his B.A. in 2003 and M.A. in 2005 at the University of Art and Design in Cluj-Napoca, Romania. Bercea’s recent solo exhibitions include: Echo of a Breaking String, Lyles and King (New York, 2024); Blue Silk, Francois Ghebaly (New York, 2022); The Far Sound of Cities, MAKI Gallery (Tokyo, 2021); Thieves of Time, François Ghebaly (Los Angeles, 2020); Time Can Space, Blain|Southern (Berlin, 2018); A Full Rotation of the Moon, Cluj Museum of Art (Cluj-Napoca, 2017). His work has also been included in numerous group exhibitions, such as:
Episode 1:Bump, Matt Carey Williams, Cork Street 9 (London, 2024); Looking Anew and Beyond, Taubman Museum(Roanoke, 2023); Transgression throughout the Volatile World, Asia Art Center (Taipei, 2021); La Brique, La Kunsthalle Mulhouse (2019); Appearance and Essence, Art Encounters Biennial Timișoara (2015); Defaced, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art (2014); Hotspot Cluj, ARKEN Museum of Modern Art (Skovvej, 2014); European Travellers, Mucsarnok Budapest (2012); No New Thing Under the Sun, Royal Academy (London, 2010); the 4th Prague Biennale (2009). His works are in many notable public and private collections, including the Hudson Valley Center for Contemporary Art (Peekskill), ARKEN Museum of Modern Art (Skovvej), Taubman Museum of Art (Roanoke), Kistefos Museum (Jevnaker), Zabludowicz Collection (London), Olbricht Collection (Berlin), Space K Museum (Seoul).

The exhibition is organized by Art Encounters Foundation and co-financed by the Administration of the National Cultural Fund.
An event possible also thanks to our strategic sponsor, Banca Transilvania, followed by the support of ISHO, Cramele Recaș, Volvo Autocardo, as well as media partners Radio Romania Cultural, RFI Romania, The Institute, Zeppelin, and Revista Arta.