Romanian artist Florin Hategan’s print series discusses the fate that may befall the world’s natural spaces
A sad, but common, story appears in Florin Hategan’s Wetland print series. A space, formerly of natural beauty and ecological importance, catches the eye of a developer who, in turn, irrevocably changes it. Hategan has seen and documented this in many of his travels. For the Romanian-born artist, this worry is all-too-familiar. When he moved to Canada in 1994, two areas near his now home of Maple, Ont—The Kotright Centre for Conservation and the Boyd Conservation Area—captured his imagination. He’s loathe to think they might meet the same fate as other green spaces around the world.
“This conservation area—I went many times there, and there were beautiful parts to it,” Hategan says.“I’m looking at them with fear, in a way, because every time a developer comes and destroys them.”
Hategan studied engineering in Timisoara, Romania, and graduated with a masters degree before moving on to study fine art. He works mostly in linocut printmaking, and started off in the field by making stark, black-and-white prints of teenagers, people in an age where they’re still dreaming and, perhaps, at their most honest, Hategan says.
From there, his artistic fascination turned to the natural world. Industrial intervention in nature often leaves land unusable for both the humans and animals that live near it. From this dissatisfaction, Hategan began documenting the human-made changes in these ecosystems, and took from them images he would later render into his artistic works. In particular, the artist chose wetlands, as they are traditionally fragile, and vulnerable.
Though the prints depict natural settings, and though their attention to detail is prominent, the scratchy lines, and black and white relief add an air of direness to their presentation, but, Hategan says, these natural spaces are still beautiful, if damaged.
Hategan’s work has received awards in six countries, including Canada, and sit in private and public galleries around the world, and a collection of his Wetland series sits in Edmonton’s Harcourt House Gallery until May 12. That said, he sees some aversion to printmaking among high-art circles, and some of his work, he hopes, will dispel this notion. It’s an old practice, he says, and a very common one, which makes an exhibit stand out less among its peers.
“It’s perceived as kind of low art,” he says. “There are a lot of artists that are doing printmaking.”
But, for the artist, the world is a sometimes chaotic place. Humanity’s role in harming the environment—and even itself—can be hard to reconcile. Printmaking, in a way, allows him to create small, self-contained worlds that are easier to digest and have a clear moral, far divorced from the complexities of real life.
“I finished engineering, I went to science, and now I’m in art part-time. In life, the science and the logic is giving you a kind of certainty and predictability, things like that. Some things in life cannot be explained,” he says. “I cannot find the answers to many things that are going on in the world, with myself, with the people around myself. By doing this, I am recreating a world which I can explain.”
Until Sat., May 12
Harcourt House Main Gallery