Dan Perjovschi is, first of all, an excellent drawer, a pithy, witty commentator on major and minor social and political events and on the contemporary art system.
The key to understanding the complexity of Perjovschi’s work lies in his political engagement, in his work for two Romanian periodicals he became involved with soon after the fall of the communist regime: Contrapunct and later the oppositional »22« Magazine; he still works for the latter as a political illustrator and art director.
Dan Perjovschi is also an activist who uses his art for his activism, be it on the staff of a periodical or in the framework of informal systems. One such system is the Contemporary Art Archive, which he founded with his wife, the artist Lia Perjovschi, in 1997 (and which had been operating in various forms and under different names since 1985); in many ways, the Contemporary Art Archive serves as a unique source of information on Romanian art and its context.
Regardless of what Perjovschi focuses on – drawing, textual commentaries, or archiving – his approach retains the structure of a work of art: non-hierarchical, heterogeneous, and serving as a tool of either the freedom of speech or an informal art system.
Dan Perjovschi’s drawings are, for the most part, ephemeral, temporary: they are either made for a newspaper and discarded with it after it has been read, or on the walls of exhibition spaces, to be whitewashed after the show closes. One of Perjovschi’s most radical projects in this sense was his installation for the Venice Biennale in 1999: he made his drawings on the floor of the Romanian Pavilion, so that they were gradually rubbed off by the visitors’ shoes. The motifs of the drawings and his commentaries reflected his sharply critical attitude to the situation Eastern European artists have found themselves in since the fall of communism due to the undeveloped domestic art system and the expectations of the established art system in the West. The erasure of those drawings on the pavilion floor related to the obliteration of the Eastern European identity and of the specific experience of these territories, and also, perhaps, of the memory of the important messages of art in general, messages that are disappearing as a result of the intensive consumption of art at large international exhibitions.
Perjovschi’s art could be described as the esthetics of disappearing and withdrawal. Withdrawal from the machinery of the Western art system as the only ethical stand possible for an artist who maintains a permanently critical position toward various social issues and an ambivalence with regard to questions of identity.
In 1993 Perjovschi participated in the Zone international performance festival in Timisioara with an action: he had Romania tattooed on his upper arm, thus problematizing his national identity as something that brands a person forever, like a wound. But his esthetics of erasure also found its way here; he had the tattoo publicly removed at the exhibition In the Gorges of the Balkans in Kassel in 2003. The latter action was a sign of his liberation from identity, the same identity that had included him in the framework of this exhibition dedicated to the art of the Balkans.
The schematic figures in Perjovschi’s drawings, accompanied by commentaries in “international” English, are individuals caught up in the games of European integration(s), of global capital and the global art system, which, after the fall of the Berlin Wall, began to also market the so-called Eastern European identity. His heroes are fragile individuals who retain the memory of the time of collectivism and of the total absence of the freedom of speech and harbor fears of the new processes of homogenization.
( Zdenka Badovinac, statement for Vincent Award nomination)