Florin Mitroi: Cuts
04 July – 06 September 2014
Mild, polite, withdrawn, Florin Mitroi had nothing of a ripper. Good husband, father and professor, he could have been a perfect pen pusher. Yet he was a cagey artist, whose work cut through him. Anti-narcissistic, Mitroi was absorbed by painting opaque mirrors on reverted glass, a fragile, though cutting surface. He tore apart his persona, both in drawings manipulating his countenance as to become younger or older, male or female, demonic or dull, and in the series of photos masquerading as a pitiable housewife, with apron and mad, wigged haircut. His drawing technique went from a traditional sketching of the figure toward shaping it with few rapid strokes. As if a Chinese killer-calligrapher, Mitroi would sharply whip the surface with a knife-acting brush leaving slit-like streaks of color on bodies and faces simultaneously drawn and butchered in this razor drawing - a consummate mixture of pleasure in gesture and hatred in feeling. His compulsive draw-to-cut is accountable for the only mythological figure frequent in his work, Atropos, goddess of fate. Mitroi’s Atropos has no customary scissors to cut life’s thread, but holds more violent tools: scythes, knives or daggers. Later, Mitroi used scissors to slash-out his harsh, final works, the drawings on metal sheet, often showing himself as either a fatally wounded body, with implements such as knives or axes plunged into the metal flesh, or a rigid, dead corpse exposed to the beholder’s derision.
Mitroi’s dismay facing his own fixations seemed misplaced while working them out in perfect seclusion. Everything changed after his sudden death, when the hidden output was uncovered, and both his terror, his scornful, suicidal and erotic obsessions, together with the long chain of violent and funeral imagery emerged. Then the fulsome, ravaging inferno of an ordinary life turned exemplary.
Text: Erwin Kessler
Florin Mitroi was born in Craiova, Romania, in 1938. Due to the political situation during the Ceauşescu regime, Mitroi kept his work hidden in his studio. After his death (2002), it was shown in "Salon der Angst", Kunsthalle Vienna, 2013, and in the "Biennial of Painting" at the Museum Dhondt-Dhaenens (Deurle, Belgium) in 2012. Mitroi was Professor at the Bucharest Academy of Art and left an oeuvre that was highly influential for the younger Romanian art scene.