Who's afraid of Blue, Yellow and Red?, acrylic on canvas, 120 cm x 120 cm (works no. II, III, IV and V out of a series of five)
Who's afraid of Blue, Yellow and Red? / 2015
During the past five years, Daniel Djamo’s ongoing research has been informed by issues of migration and de-localization, following the tracks of Romanian migrants and disclosing a yet-to-be-written history of displacements, where collective experiences and clichés interlace with anonymous stories, nourished by the artist's own encounters. His method persists in advancing the state of transit at the core of an understanding of migration as a form of contemporary nomadism, whereby the physical act of crossing space and rigid boundaries entangles a social transgression, which is oftentimes doubled by a way of being and envisioning the world as one of permanent fluctuation and in-betweenness.
For Anca Poterasu Gallery, Daniel Djamo proposes his latest project, Who's Afraid of Blue, Yellow and Red?, a five panel acrylic painting reinterpreting one of the landmarks of mid-century abstraction – Barnett Newman’s Who’s Afraid of Red Yellow and Blue. In appropriating the means of abstract painting, Djamo performs a fundamental détournement that plays with colliding levels of meaning, in which the art historical approach is doubled by a critical social enquiry. If Newman sought to create paintings as essentially visual and perceptual phenomena, for Daniel Djamo the challenge of inscribing pure colors onto a given form is far from being anything near to a manifestation of social and political escapism. The subtextual significance of the primary colors becomes evident, as soon as these are linked to the political tricolor of red, yellow and blue of the Romanian flag.
Out of the desire to reposition the climate of present narratives as that of permanent flux, Djamo makes use of his personal imprints: he spatially traverses the surface, creating a multi-layered color field by means of the aleatory movement of his own footprints. As a self-appointed nomad himself, the artist becomes an active “agent of transition”, who allegorically departs from a private perspective in order to „explore the migratory paths of Romanians around Europe, overlapping the perceptions of borders and the conventional delimitations of space” (Daniel Djamo). Part of a continuous authorial refashioning process, the works refer at the same time and in symbolic terms to the political and cultural experiences of „being Romanian” in a global context. How does life look like in the absence of home(land)? What bring expatriates with them to foreign countries; how different are the cultural behaviors? Is assimilation possible, is it indeed necessary?
These inquisitive premises open up a complex field of analysis upon the social chiasms that shape our contemporary lives, where the flow of global migration spans new invisible narratives, precariously balancing between reality and hypothesis, a sense of belonging and a state of disorientation and inadequacy. Problematizing cultural notions of space and socio-political borders from the broadness of geographical topographies thus becomes a strategy for (re)negotiating identity and collective social dynamics.
text by Ioana Mandeal, curator of "Who's afraid of Blue, Yellow and Red?", an exhibition that ran from July to September 2015 at Anca Poterasu Gallery, in Bucharest, Romania
special thanks for the development of the idea of the series: Laurent Jacob, Espace 251 Nord, Liège, Belgium