MATEI ARNĂUTU: Anonymous opus manuum artificis

November 10 - December 10, 2021 Anaid Art Gallery Bucharest

 Debauchery as a social phenomenon 


Matei Arnăutu is one of the most discreet artists of the 2000 generation. Over the years, his work has been developed around the realm of conceptual art, found and recontextualized objects and site-specific installation exhibitions. If in 2012, in the exhibition "Rembo's Dream", Matei Arnăutu made subtle references to the world of childhood games through installations which recreated life-size, often even oversized, DIY toy weapons belonging to urban folklore; in his new exhibition "Anonymous opus manuum artificis" the artist probes a new type of social behaviour neighbouring disposophobia, which leads to the emergence of an attractive space for the artist: the closet - DIY workshop.


The debauchery in the Romanian landscape is an endless source of useless, old things that transcend time and space, often "arranged" in an "order" governed by chaos. A vacuous horror full of meaning, memories, forgotten desires of the possessors. The storage place-workshop, seen in its essence, is taken over by the artist and transformed into an object of research and reinterpretation. This space becomes an alter ego of today's society, an image in which disorder, chaos, useless things, separation from the past, often idealized, occur as the result of a dramatic rupture between different mentalities and generations. Matei Arnăutu disclosed that the source of his inspiration was given by the following reality:''in the living space of a Bucharest inhabitant or in his near vicinity, there is a storage space, a closet, a garage, a box in the basement of the ''bloc''(block of flats), etc., where those objects that no longer find their purpose or usefulness in the house are stored, yet the owner "does not dare" to relinquish. This mild form of Compulsive hoarding[1], creates some cluttered spaces, some of which become veritable "time capsules" containing objects that can illustrate the evolution of a culture over several generations."


In addition, to its primary function as a storage place, the depot becomes, in some cases, the workshop of the second-hand craftsman. Here, the enthusiast collects and preserves various objects from different times and eras, which may receive a particular utility at a given time. These dark, cluttered spaces, where chaos reigns, are the image of the owner's naive personal universe. Matei Arnăutu makes a series of photomontages based on this phenomenon, quite common during the communist period and somehow on the verge of extinction today.

The gallery space is transformed into a large assemblage-installation, where the artist creates a series of mini-installations out of found objects, some of them with art historical filiations - the bicycle wheel, the clothes peg, the television - that brings to mind Duchamp, Vostel or Beuys. A vernacular, ingenuous universe is transposed to describe a social phenomenon tending towards dissolution.


Curator: Diana Dochia


  [1] Compulsive hoarding behaviour. Compulsive hoarding