Sliding Door Gallery

766 Santa Fe Dr, Denver, CO 80204

Marius Lehene

“Acolo (There)”

“Acolo (There)” Mixed Media on Burlap, 40×48″

“Dark Perimeter (Homage to Tapies)”

“Dark Perimeter (Homage to Tapies)”, Cement and Mixed Media on Burlap, 40×48″

“Lehene makes dense, tactile assemblages of plywood and concrete, often poetically evoking the detritus from construction sites. The surfaces of these groupings are simultaneously distressed and elegant. In “Exc Area,” the thick plywood support is coated with a thin layer of cement like icing on a cake. The bumpy, ridged gray surface tempts one to touch it, and random lines and text written in blue and green chalk have a cheery vibrancy. (…)

The nature of physical reality preoccupies Lehene as well, specifically what he describes as the “space in-between cultures” that he inhabits as a Romanian living in the United States.

In “Immigrant I,” a T-shirt fastened to plywood serves as his proxy, or what he calls the “temporary home for my body.” Yet in the work, it hangs empty as a trace of the artist, a sign of his former presence. An envelope from the Department of Homeland Security sits on the T-shirt and one wonders, is the information contained within good or bad? To what degree does this governmental agency actually dictate the terms of an immigrant’s existence?

In a second version, “Immigrant II,” a dollar bill peeks through the envelope window, raising the specter of a corrupt bureaucracy run amok.

For Lehene, the space between cultures is seemingly defined by flux. These assemblages have no sense of permanence; everything appears caught in a moment of dissolution or reconstruction. In the monumental “Big Cement with Y-s,” rents in the cement reveal patches of red clay, blobs of amber-colored glue and fragments of newsprint.

Lehene juxtaposes headlines like “Airport screening put under scope” with a photograph of a woman wearing a headscarf. This is an old but effective strategy.

In 1912 when Picasso began to experiment with collage, he combined newspaper accounts of the war in the Balkans with serene, Cubist-style café imagery to capture the age’s apprehension of a world war. Similarly, the headlines and images evoke immigrants, Muslims and terrorism as the great fears of our age. Yet Lehene’s work is ultimately optimistic. In the context of the work, he seems to argue that one day these headlines and fears will be history, mere traces of a time and place.”

Excerpt from “Eastern Europeans converge and diverge at Curfman Gallery” by Kiki Gilderhus, published in the Rocky Mountain Chronicle, November 2006.

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Written by Sliding Door Gallery

July 9, 2007 at 4:41 pm

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