Marc Straus LLC proudly inaugurates its new gallery with an exhibition of paintings by Leonardo Silaghi. This is the first gallery exhibit for Leonardo, a Romanian painter who graduated from the vaunted academy in Cluj from which a decade ago emerged some of the most interesting young painters today: Adrian Ghenie, Serban Savu, Marius Bercea and more. Silaghi was born at the very end of a repressive Communist regime and has grown up in a society in transition as it moves painstakenly and unevenly to a market-based western economy.
The Cluj painters just ten years older take on the political and social conundrums of such rapid change with figurative work that may include elements of nostalgia or bitterness and in general their work echoes some of the best painters from a decade or so before them such as Michael Borremans, Luc Tuymans, and Ulf Puder.
Perhaps artistic cycles evolve in such short periods of time because Silaghi is clearly of the next generation. His work frequently depicts the industrial gear of the Communist era – the larger hulking steel – airplanes, railcars, trucks, tankers – that represented a very brutal if somewhat fleeting power. But Silaghi is more removed, less nostalgic and less reproachful. In a NY Times Sunday review of Silaghi’s exhibit at The Hudson Valley Center of Contemporary Art, Susan Hodara proposes that “Mr. Silaghi has endowed his machines with human personality.” (Nov. 20, 2011)
His palette is bold and loose and convincing with much more freedom. Slashes and drips abound in very large oils on canvas – most almost 10 feet wide. In this expansiveness these machines are both powerful and beautiful and we are compelled to see them anew through the freshness of this remarkable young talent.