Exhibition - Serban Savu: Regolith

Wednesday, Apr 14, 2021 at 11:00am

Nicodim Gallery
1700 S Santa Fe Avenue, #160
Los Angeles, CA 90021

Please call before attending any community events. It is likely that they will be postponed or canceled as a result of the coronavirus. You can find CDC coronavirus information at cdc.gov/coronavirus; AARP has additional resources at aarp.org/coronavirus.

Dust is the ultimate inevitability: the origin and final resting place for us all. It serves as a metaphor for age, forgetfulness, and the process of forgetting and being forgotten. It’s dirty, it gets everywhere, but not necessarily uncomfortably so; dusty objects require a bit of a shaking-off, a light dusting. Regolith is the stony material that lies loosely on top of bedrock, the dust before the dust. 

Șerban Savu was born in Sighișoara, Romania, near Transylvania, while the country suffered under the corrupt and brutal pseudo-Communist autocracy of Nicolae Ceaușescu. When the Soviet empire crumbled in 1989, Romania was flooded with western culture, capitalism, and all that comes with it. People were no longer hungry, but a thin layer of dust soon gathered on the collective memory for the way things were. 

Regolith, Savu’s fourth exhibition with Nicodim, continues his examination of sentimentality for a past in which suffering was omnipresent. His palette is muted and dusty, with tones not dissimilar to the way one recalls an old photograph, or a film seen only once. The compositions weave new nostalgias with the old, subverting present desires with those for a time that may or may not have actually existed. In “Renovations,” 2020, two figures either cover-up or restore a 16th century Catholic fresco—in 17th century Transylvania, the Protestants covered up Catholic art in an effort to eradicate ornamentalism, then the Marxist-Leninists eliminated the Protestant imagery in their campaign for an atheistic society, then the capitalists entered and brought their own icons. Whether the painting within the painting is emerging from or returning to the dust depends entirely on the viewer’s mnemohistorical reference points. “Thracian Tomb,” 2020, is set within an archaeological excavation of artwork initially intended for funerary purposes as it is unveiled in service of a new ideology. The excavation site itself predates the Roman history of the Romanian region, and spotlights the relativity of inherited memory; there was a Romania before there were Romanians, and they curated their own cultural history. “Mask,” 2020, and “Concretion,” 2020, both immerse the viewer in their own beginnings and endings, from dust to regolith to dust again, the osmosis of soul from one generation to the next.

The past is a living thing to Savu, not the way it was, but the way it thrives in memory. “Growing up, I had ethnic German neighbors in Transylvania, who managed to flee Romania before 1989. Things immediately became much better for them after they left. Still, they have nostalgia for living under Ceaușescu, when they were poor, hungry. The nostalgia is not necessarily for the bad times—those they have forgotten—but for youth. It is youth they remember.”

Exhibition Dates: March 25 – May 1, 2021

This event listing provided for the Los Angeles community events calendar. Community events are not associated with or sponsored by AARP, but may be of interest to you. If you have an event to share, let us know!

Images provided by AmericanTowns.com, Ticketmaster

More from AARP in Los Angeles

Upcoming AARP Events

View All AARP Events »


Find information about getting a COVID-19 vaccine in your state. CDC information is available at cdc.gov/coronavirus; additional AARP information and resources are at aarp.org/coronavirus. En español, visite aarp.org/elcoronavirus.

AARP Member Card

Join or Renew Today

JOIN FOR JUST $16 A YEAR

  • Immediate access to your member benefits
  • Discounts on travel and everyday savings
  • Subscription to the award-winning AARP The Magazine
  • An ally on the issues that matter most to you in Los Angeles
  • Free membership for your spouse or partner
JOIN NOW