Victor Man is a Romanian contemporary artist. His paintings are inspired by the dark tones employed during the eighteenth century, where many paintings used to depict night scenes, illuminated only by the light of a single candle. Man’s paintings show ambiguous figures, whether in transformation or caught between two states: androgynous portraits, montages of animal and human characteristics, anachronisms. The fascinating beauty and the subtle treatment of light worked for its institutional recognition: Victor Man is represented by Gladstone Gallery, and his paintings are included in the collections of museums such as the Tate Modern in London or the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris.
For an exhibition of the artist’s work in Berlin in 2020, Galerie Neu published a monograph and commissioned Atelier Dyakova for the design. Sonya Dyakova picked up the color codes of the paintings for the cover, using a dark green textile to host the black letters of the name of the artist. On the inside, we find a combination of two paper stocks: a cream-colored one for texts that keeps the reader in the imaginary of a classical book from a few centuries ago while adding a soft and sensual touch to the publication, and a white glossy paper to ensure the quality of the reproductions. The book is set in Kessler, designed by Alaric Garnier and produced by Production Type. The use of an inscriptional typeface finds its reason in a painting where Man takes the classical pattern of the mention “A. D.” (Anno Domini), as found inscribed in churches, and turns it into a halo for a reclining portrait. The use of Kessler amplifies the general impression of disturbing strangeness, making the epoch of the paintings even less identifiable.
The book closes with a quote from the French poet Paul Verlaine, “Un grand sommeil noir / Tombe sur ma vie / Dormez tout espoir / Dormez tout envie!” (“A big black sleep / Falls on my life / Sleep all hope / Sleep all will”): yet another reference to the galaxy that Victor Man conveys, but that unifies the overall feeling he creates – an obscureness that is echoed in the closing dark green pages.