Zeno X Gallery is pleased to present Hotel Empathy, the third solo exhibition in Antwerp by Mircea Suciu (b. 1978, Romania).

During his youth, Mircea Suciu witnessed the fall of the Iron Curtain and the way people tried to rediscover their cultural and personal identity. At the same time American culture played an important role in both his upbringing and the formation of his visual language. Over the years Suciu has also spent two working periods in New York; he lived in the United States at the beginning of his career around 2008 and last year. Suciu discovered that several American artists were among his favourites, such as John Baldessari and Robert Rauschenberg. The way these artists freely combine different techniques and styles was a source of inspiration for the artist. Over the years he developed his own graphic technique, one that also incorporates different media and which he calls ‘monotype’: after transferring a photographic image onto the canvas, Suciu then applies both acrylic and oil paint. The monoprint allows him to balance the composition while the paint adds colour and texture to the work. He simultaneously conceals and reveals. For him, the process is as important as the final image.

Suciu not only uses a wide range of graphic techniques to compose images, but he also resorts to various types of images. He often recycles images that are part of our collective memory or that seem familiar, ranging from a Campbell soup can to an identifiable character of a baroque painting. Through this seemingly eclectic choice of imagery he strives for iconicity in a world that is constantly being overwhelmed by all sorts of images. Suciu is interested in the mechanisms behind an image – how the impact can be immediate and how an image can be deceiving or rather emancipating. By working in series, he tries to exhaust certain motifs and to reach the essence of an image. The images could be seen as echoes that become more real through repetition, making it harder for one to escape them.

Mircea Suciu feels an urge to confront the viewer with the world we live in: ‘We tend to blame someone else: God, evil, destiny. There is no evil; there is no God; we are to blame in all cases. It is our weakness; it is the corruption of our minds and souls that creates the problems we confront in our society. The lack of education is the main factor that drives us into the pit of these sad moments. Our lack of involvement produces these catastrophic events. From dictatorship to war to climate change, we as individuals and as a society are the ones responsible. Standing, watching in oblivion, we expect a higher entity to solve this mess, and if it does not, we blame it on evil. The war we are experiencing is within ourselves.’

Suciu confronts classical beauty with images of fear and disruption. He juxtaposes representational imagery and abstraction to break through a simple reality, perspective and narrative. The images feel emotionally charged while the abstract geometrical patterns add a rational and orderly touch. The series Strange Fruit, for example, is based on the painting Las Meniñas (1656) by Diego Velazquez and pictures the young Infanta Margaret Theresa. The title Strange Fruit refers to the famous poem that condemns racism and specifically the lynching of Afro-Americans. The combination of these elements tries to bring to attention the brutalities that took place during the reign of the Spanish kings, such as the Inquisition and colonisation.

The title of the exhibition, Hotel Empathy, suggests a temporary home for the works that will host them with understanding and compassion. Mircea Suciu’s work was part of the Gwangju Biennale in 2014 and was the subject of a solo show organized at the National Museum of Contemporary Art in Bucharest. His work has been included in exhibitions at Kunsthal Rotterdam, MARe Museum of Recent Art in Bucharest, Kunstmuseum Bochum, Weserburg in Bremen, Zacheta National Gallery in Warsaw, Espace Louis Vuitton in Paris, Boulder Museum of Contemporary Art in Boulder, Fondation Francès in Senlis, Maison Particulière in Brussels, MODEM Centre for Modern and Contemporary Art in Debrecen, Mucsarnok Kunsthalle in Budapest, the 4th Prague Biennale, 16th Vilnius Painting Triennial and the 11th Istanbul Biennial.