The Voeten Collection represents a unique combination of both Belgian and international works. Currently it comprises over 1700 art pieces that have been collected during a period of more than 40 years. They are exhibited in two separate locations – at the Art Center close to Herentals and at the sculpture park near Gheel.

Ciprian Muresan

All the images from a book about Matthias Grünewald, 2014, pencil on paper, 100 x 85 cm

"I don't consider any work of art to be finished. If there is an artist who left works of art behind him, I think it is part of the world's prerogative to take the work's ideas or images or meaning, and to continue it, to develop and build upon it," states Ciprian Mureşan (°1977, Dej, Romania), who lives and works in Cluj. This Romanian artist was twelve during the Romanian Revolution in 1989 and creates a quite allegorical oeuvre whereby he reflects on life after the Soviet-Union. Nearly constant in his work is the questioning of artistic (re)production and the meaning of sources. Mureşan works in diverse media ranging from video, photography and animation to drawings.

Ciprian Mureşans art is rooted in the tumultuous Romanian political history. The artist departs from his own local situation, but considerates at the same time global socio-political issues. Mureşan witnessed the chaos that followed the Romanian Revolution and the fall of Communism. Romania attempted to make a fluent transition to capitalism and wished to modernize. The artist felt disappointed and disillusioned, feelings he expresses in his art by using for instance cynicism and black humor. Mureşan was part of a culture that was warped between two distinct ideologies. His art education was almost solely that of fetishized transcription, copying the canon of Western art with no entrance to content and the conceptual.

In his series of drawings which are made out of different overlapping layers of graphite drawings Mureşan reflects on this empty reproducing of sources. He traces these images out of monographs about known artists. In that way these works are at the same time an ode to and critique on the art history and the canon. All the images from a book about Matthias Grünewald (2014) consists of drawings from a book about the medieval German painter Matthias Grünewald, known from the Isenheim Altarpiece. By superimposing multiple renderings into large drawings Mureşan creates new layers of meaning and a sort of new history for these images. Mureşan made other similar drawings using books about for instance Antonello da Messina, Piero della Francesca, Bas Jan Ader, Martin Kippenberger, Kazimir Malevich en Agnes Martin.

Interesting is that Mureşan, whereas he clearly reacts against the hollow copying of images that moreover often already are reproductions or 'second-hand' sources, is of the opinion that it is admissible and even self-evident to work with something that was already made: "I feel that the world is full of so many products, like art, which are already in circulation. Why not use the tools and materials that we have already, applying new focus or perspective to analyze and understand them in new ways, to create works that recycle and develop instead of starting from scratch? I don't think art making needs to be static; it's not a closed system," thus the artist. Furthermore he states: "I like to think that artworks are somehow open, and you can take them as raw material, at a symbolical level, not the objects as such, meaning that I find inspiration in the fact that I can change a screw or a detail in an already established work of art, which could enrich it with new, updated meanings."

Mureşan emphasizes the use of and critical approach to the symbolical value of a work. He rejects merely representing an existing image or idea by reason of nostalgia. In that case it is according to him namely merely about a personal memory, a personal history. This tendency, that the artist notices in Romania, enables an oversimplification of symbols and icons. Therefore he states that we should be aware of these reduced images, which might be used to seduce or persuade.

Ciprian Mureşan wants to explore, reinterpret and re-contextualize historical, social and cultural references and the grand models in the art history. Thus the Romanian seeks a way to collate the disjunction or the feeling of dissociation between ourselves, our present and our past or the history. In his drawings this alienation is expressed by the feeling of the images being without place. Pulled out of their original context, the drawings are charged with different and new layers of meaning. Mureşan hence hopes to unveil the complexity of everyday life and the conditions of viewing history.

Text: Sarah Gallasz