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September 25, 2022

Pastoral land art in London

A combination of Brancusi and Henry Moore, two of his declared mentors. Hieratic ‘characters’ (even titles sometimes have Brancusi resonances), a compound of geometric and organic, sometimes with a la Giacometti fragility inflexions (a certain reference in his small bronze fine art). The natural material – hay – and the monumental character place them in a pastoral land art. And the predilection for hollows hints at the sculptural art of the British (which, one should not forget this, is also a subtle contemplation of the aesthetics of landscape, where the absence becomes a premise for presence – the Taoism was using the suggestive metaphor of the wheel). Without its psychedelic dramatism, Ern? Bartha’s hay colossi also remind of Dali (the Cluj artist also plays with analogies – a curled up moustache just as the Catalan, as well as an inclination to surrealist happenings), especially since he has also set up a private estate somewhere near Cluj – something resembling a park of ‘odd things’. But his monumental art now has the chance of a genuine international recognition. The cultural Olympics (a pendant to the more spectacular athletic ones) this summer are a good opportunity for three of his hay works to be placed in public areas in London. ’Skyscrapers’ and ‘Bird’ will ‘float’ on the Victoria Park lake and pedestrians will be able to walk under the ‘Tim Spiral’ in the Pleasure Gardens. The interest is already alive there, as the sculptures will still be there for the Londoners to enjoy after the two months of ‘Olympic’ exhibition. The ephemeral material (although the ethnological solution chosen gives it several years of life expectancy) confers upon it a plus of currency in the context of generalised consumerism  – also cultural (at a former exhibition, a cow actually helped itself to one of the sculptures), while the ludic hieratism enhances its symbolic accessibility (closer to an entertainment park than to Brancusi’s ‘too metaphysical’ universe). The eco art flavour will certainly attract additional sympathy, especially knowing that the project logo is ‘Nature in the City’, ‘an attempt – as Bartha says – to tame the far too geometrical urban shapes’. The Cluj artist is permeable to a variety of influences, however his intuitions walk down the paved roads of modern sculpture: combination of sturdy and fragile, intimate and monumental, anthropomorphic and abstract. The ‘bird’ (a styled ostrich) looks like an athlete tensing his inner spring of spirit / ‘flight’, but also like a being in between two existential dimensions (human body gains unusual capabilities through the wings).’Skyscrapers‘ (the title comes from a poetic vision, not some aestheticisation of technology) is a Brancusi passed through Calder’s lesson, where the functionality of the artefact narrows down the aura of the archetypal. Adjusted to circumstance (an audio installation presents to the approaching visitor recordings of past Olympic Games athletic chronicles), the ‘Time Spiral’

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