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Painting is silent poetry, and poetry is painting that speaks. Simonides

Arsen Roje













Arsen Roje (1937-2007)

"Body Parts"


"The situation is that of him who is helpless, cannot act, in the event cannot paint, since he is obliged to paint. The act is of him who, helpless, unable to act, acts, in the event paints, since he is obliged to paint."
-Samuel Beckett, "Three Dialogues" (1949)

 " ...Arsen Roje was born in Croatia in 1937. He briefly attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Zagreb before moving to Paris in 1965. In 1968 Roje moved to New York before finally settling in Los Angeles in 1971, where he lived until his death in 2007.
Roje painted tirelessly in various degrees of success and isolation, grappling with the push-pull of abstraction and representation, but always coming back to the figure and ultimately his own body. In his later work, presented here, he identified with the reductionism of Samuel Beckett, who remained his chief intellectual influence throughout his life.
A forerunner of his later work, the now-famous poster image for the 1970 film M*A*S*H shows Roje's own hand flashing a peace sign while wearing an army helmet and standing on high-heeled legs. In essence, this iconic American image creates an anthropomorphic figure from human parts –a prosthetic mash-up of the body acting as signifier.
Painted in the artist's final years, each of the canvases on view reflects the peculiar brand of representation that so obsessed Roje: inward, indexical, without context, without distance. Roje's lush, sculptural renderings of the human form pop out from the surface towards the viewer while the backgrounds remain uniform, deploying the sheen and saturation of marine lacquer, house and auto paint. This laid-bare combination of flatness/negation and the imperative of the figure offers Roje his ultimate resolve.










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