Hortensia Mi Kafchin

Hortensia Mi Kafchin was born in the Roma­nian city of Galați in 1986. In 2010 she grad­u­ated from the Uni­ver­sity of Art and Design in Cluj, where she had spe­cialised in pottery, glass and metal. Kafchin then worked as an assistant to the painter Adrian Ghenie, whose stu­dio she later took over. Like Ghenie she belonged to a loose network of local artists who set up their stu­dios in an abandoned factory, shar­ing tra­di­tional technical train­ing and thor­ough knowl­edge of art history, both taught at the local art academy, as a common springboard for their art. About 13 years ago, these young artists cap­tured the interna­tional art world as the Cluj Connec­tion.

Kafchin stands out from this group in two respects. For one thing, she loves to exper­i­ment, and this has famil­iarised her with a broad range of artistic media from draw­ing, paint­ing and sculp­ture to room installa­tions blend­ing all these techniques. For another, Kafchin has a dis­tinc­tive canon of motifs which, like a kalei­do­scope, reflect the collage-like visual envi­ron­ment of our media age. Hers is a fas­cinat­ing iconog­ra­phy where sci­ence fiction blends with ancient myths. There are frequent encounters between humans and machines, some­times as adver­sar­ies, but mostly as hybrids. Kafchin’s fig­ures, how­ever, are not heroic symbols of technical per­fec­tion and supe­r­i­or­ity, but sensi­tive and melan­choly mechan­ical beings whose sta­tus hov­ers between sub­ject and object. Indeed, Kafchin often depicts the human body as a build­ing site under­go­ing transforma­tion. These bodies might be surrounded by scaffold­ing, placed in chem­ical lab­o­rato­ries or exposed to med­ica­tion.

Hort­ensia Mi Kafchin, who grew up in a male body with the name Mihuț Boșcu Kafchin and is currently tran­si­tion­ing to her own gen­der, uses this canon to express per­sonal and other con­struc­tions of gen­der and identity. The goal of becom­ing one’s own body is repeat­edly visu­alised, not only in the form of female and trans­sexual archetypes, but also by the symbol of yin and yang—the defini­tive rec­on­cil­ia­tion of internal and external opposites.

The young artist has long since found an interna­tional audi­ence. After solo exhi­bi­tions in Cluj, Stockholm, Los Ange­les, Paris and Budapest, the National Museum of Con­tem­po­rary Art in Bucharest staged a major show of her work in autumn 2016. Kafchin has also taken part in many prestigious group exhi­bi­tions, includ­ing at the Aus­trian Museum of Applied Arts in Vienna (2015), the Espace Cul­turel Louis Vuit­ton in Paris (2013), the Prague Biennale (2013) and the La Tri­ennale in Paris (2012).