This is the first exhibition of Romanian artist Noche Crist (1909-2004) since her retrospective at the American University Museum at the Katzen Arts Center in 2008. Works on display span Crist’s long career and include prints, paintings and sculptures. Noche Crist was an extraordinary visionary with a unique voice who eagerly experimented with multiple mediums. Self taught, she explored various techniques and embraced silkscreen printing when it was still a relatively innovative print method. Throughout her work there is a sensuality and eroticism that enthralls and captivates the viewer.
The interweaving of Noche Crist’s persona with her art is almost impossible to separate, as is her vibrant, passionate life from her decadent Balkan roots. She transcended social and intellectual “norms” by dismissing them as irrelevant or boring, in her very distinctive accented voice that was mesmerizing in its cadence, eloquence, and persuasion. In fact, her seeming frivolity occasionally obscured (perhaps sometimes deliberately) the intensity of her vocation: Robert Rice’s observation that “a lack of solemnity is not necessarily a lack of seriousness” certainly applied to her. It is difficult to categorize the dichotomies manifest in Crist’s creative output. In her works she examined morality from both perspectives. Evil and good were explored and depicted equally as basic components of every human being. Crist delved courageously deep into herself to examine and regurgitate the darkness within. That struggle between these poles utilized Boschian Lilliputians, catastrophes, and powerful imagery in her interpretations. The circular form and metaphorical regeneration that occur in her prints and paintings, using her own exotic lexicon of imagery, are always a return to basic questions as to how life is led, how choices are made, and the consequences of those choices for each of us. Deliberate obfuscation was a ploy Crist successfully used to conceal, with her whimsical nymphs and hybrid animals, the sorcery of her tales and their underlying magic.
Noche was born in Craiova, Romania and its beautiful beaux arts Museum received a number of her works for its permanent collection after she died. There is also a planned exhibition of her work in 2019 at the National Contemporary Art Museum in Bucharest as interest in expatriate Romanians artists who were forced to flee in order to avoid the Communist takeover of the country has increased. This timely exhibition at Gallery 2112 ten years after Noche Crist’s last public viewing celebrates the breadth and complexity of her art.
Vivienne M. Lassman, Curator