ART REVIEW: Romanian artists sketch Nigel Farage’s worst nightmare

Interview

1 November/Posted by Paul Hitter

One side effect of the UK’s Brexit referendum was the way that xenophobic rhetoric became mainstream – a development that has been blamed for the recent spate of attacks on EU immigrants in the UK. On the other side of the continent, the Brexit vote and anti-immigrant backlash has caused consternation in Romania, whose people were the target of a verbal attack by Ukip leader Nigel Farage. Now two Romanian artists have riposted with a small exhibition that exaggerates the fear of a Romanian “invasion” to a surreal conclusion – the takeover of Buckingham Palace by a gypsy camp.In “Nigel’s Dream”, Eugen Raportoru has used the style he usually employs to depict “mahala” – a Romanian word for slums – to portray the gates of Buckingham Palace. His work is flanked by two paintings of moustached beefeaters by fellow Romanian artist Paul Hitter. Like Raportoru, Hitter has subverted his subject; one of the guards is holding a fry-up while the other’s shirt is open and his flies are undone. They are surrounded by British symbols – a cup of tea, a football hooligan, the front page of The Sun newspaper.The exhibition has the caption “the loonies have taken over the asylum”. It was briefly on show at the Musette Cube, a small exhibition space in downtown Bucharest. With the divisive Brexit vote still raw in the UK, many of those who came in for a closer look were Brits staying at the nearby Hilton and Radisson hotels.I caught up with Hitter at the popular Black Sea resort of Mamaia, a two-hour drive from Bucharest. At the end of the summer season, the beaches and promenades are deserted and most of the shops and cafes already shuttered for the winter. Sitting in an empty restaurant, Hitter explains that the inspiration for the exhibition came from a Facebook dispute with his agent, Alexandru Harbuzaru of Fortin.Despite the subject of the exhibition, Hitter is no rampant Europhile, and had reposted some of Farage’s arguments against the EU. Harbuzaru then drew his attention to Farage’s comment that, “Any normal and fair-minded person would have a perfect right to be concerned if a group of Romanian people suddenly moved in next door”, made during a 2014 radio interview.“I agreed with some of the things Nigel said, but I disagreed with the way he made Romanians the scapegoats in his campaign,” Hitter tells bne IntelliNews. Although he, Raportoru and Harbuzaru all had different opinions on the EU, they decided to “do something for the Romanians and answer back”, says Hitter, pointing out that there had been no official response to Farage’s comment from Bucharest.read more.

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