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Victor Man

Victor Man

Victor Man’s paintings and assemblages are hallmarked by their gloomy atmospheres imbued with melancholy, in which underlying preoccupations associated with personal identity, collective memory and the sacred mingle with the violent, the mystic and the erotic.

Taken one by one or as a whole, Victor Man’s works release snippets of unfinished stories, stirring the spectators’ free associations and causing a certain disorientation: “I avoid giving a definitive status to my works”, says the artist. “I like the idea of gently penetrating things and keeping a certain distance. If things become too explicit, I add another element which upsets their coherence.”

This ambiguity is apparent in Victor Man’s relationship to the images that serve as points of departure for his works. Removed from their context, these images are “emptied” of their initial meaning and take on other more subliminal levels of meaning: “I often use images that have a certain specific significance in the media. Emptying them means that I do not choose them for their ‘value’ but because of their representative potential as images, in order to construct a new content with them”, he points out. The artist thus describes his exhibitions as “zones of turbulence”, in which each work is challenged by the works surrounding it. The show at Mudam is based on a mixture of references from the media, art history, popular culture, and literature, which form a network of quotations. The Quattrocento painter Sassetta meets the French photographer Pierre Molinier (Shaman, 2008), the poets W. B. Yeats (Wandering Aengus, 2008) and Robert Creeley (Untitled (from If Mind Were All There Was), 2009), Samuel Beckett (Untitled (Memorable Equinox), 2009), the American underground filmmaker Kenneth Anger (Rabbit’s Moon (after K.A.), 2009) and the Austrian author Leopold von Sacher-Masoch, whose tale Basil Hymen, has been described as a “Carpathian robinsonnade”. Like the neon work Untitled (2012), which borrows a drawing of the Romanian national hero Michael the Brave (1558-1601), as sketched by the artist aged ten, some works also possess an autobiographical dimension.

© Photo : Andrés Lejona

Victor Man has a preference for painting in dark colours, which reminds us of the 18th century landscape painters, who used black mirrors, also known as “Claude mirrors”, to turn colours into shades of grey. His works capture moods, offering the onlooker nothing but ambiguous, vague tracks, and leaving him or her in a haze. They also render a memory of images and objects made up of different layers of time, which appears to waver between disappearance and reminiscence. Victor Man’s highly personal poetics and the illustrative diversity of his output trace the outlines of an artistic world in which historical facts and subjective impressions coming from different worlds and periods are grounded.

Victor Man was born in 1974 in Cluj, Romania. He lives and works in Berlin and Cluj.


  • Christophe Gallois