February 1, 2016


Amy Stewart – AMPD publicist

Emanuel Ciobanica’s solo exhibition Exoskeleton conceals secrets


Emanuel Ciobanica’s solo mixed media exhibition Exoskeleton, currently on view in Gales Gallery, explores the concept of healing physical and psychological trauma. Ciobanica created the works in the show over the past 18 months in a self-directed private studio setting.

Exoskeleton considers the skin’s adaptive nature as it builds a hard protective layer when dealing with a physical injury. It maps the process of recovery as the body reacts to trauma, and the way it can become stronger as a result.

The 9 large-scale raw canvases on display have been folded, protectively encrusted with tinted wax, and finally painted and airbrushed in rich, jewel-toned acrylics.

The works are essentially stylized skin grafts that strive to convey, through colour, texture and dramatic contrast, a sense of personal tension and transformation within a toxic environment. Most of the pieces have an eye-tricking effect that is meant to create mystery, change perspective, and provoke inquiry.

Ciobanica starts each work with a private note, written only to herself, in the centre of the piece. The title for each painting hints at the contents of the note, but only the artist knows what it says, as the note is covered and concealed by the wax.


“My notes are about what I’m thinking about when I create each piece, it talks about what i'm going through at that time and meant to create a direct dialogue between the viewer and artist” said Ciobanica. “They are my starting point and inspiration. The series explores healing, and through these paintings I’m both communicating with myself and also sharing my experiences with the world.”


The series title Exoskeleton is apt, as the waxed portion of the canvas has a hard and hollow feel, like armour or a carapace.


“The wax can crack or flake, much like healing skin would,” said Ciobanica. “I chose wax for these impermanent qualities, as it adds interest to the work with different colours revealed in the layers.”


Ciobanica is the recipient of the 2014-15 Willowdale Group of Artists Painting Award in the Department of Visual Art and Art History. The award recognizes exceptional achievement in painting . The recipient receives $1250 and the opportunity to present a solo show in the Gales Gallery.


The Willowdale Group of Artists is a community-based association dedicated to the art of painting. They have been supporting visual arts students at York since 2000. Members meet weekly and participate in regular workshops, life drawing sessions and demonstrations as well as annual group exhibitions.


“I’m very grateful to the Willowdale Group of Artists for their support,” said Ciobanica. “It’s such an honour to be recognized through this award. The work I’ve done in the studio culminating in this exhibition has provided a great opportunity to focus, bring the series together, get feedback, and showcase the result in a professional setting. The Willowdale Group’s generous donation has gone towards materials and my studio practice. Overall, it’s been an important boost and stepping-stone.”


Ciobanica has been passionate about visual art from a very young age. Growing up in Romania, she studied classical European artistic technique and placed third in the Apanova International Painting Competition when she was 11. In 2007, she won a painting composition award in Romania’s national art contest titled From Real to Surreal. Her numerous public art commissions can be seen across the Toronto, including at the intersections of Eglinton Ave. and Weston Rd. and at Lake Shore Blvd. West and Mimico Ave. as well as underpasses at Keele St. and Dundas St. and Bloor St. and Mount Pleasant Ave.


February 3rd, 2016

Shiyi Zhang

Exhibition review:

Exoskeleton by Emanuel Ciobanica

Emanuel Ciobanica’s Exoskeleton series exhibited from February 2nd to February 20th in York University’s Gales Gallery welcomes viewers into spacious, white room dominated by nine massive, heavy square swatches of crumpled canvas. Evenly spaced and uniform in size, the pieces protrude from the walls and floor much like dynamic structures rather than the flimsy surface of painters. From afar they resemble colourful, oddly industrial roses with every fold and crease a tribute to childlike curiosity. Indeed, the surface, thick with paint – splatters, globs, dabs, bubbles – and intense in colour, beckons the desire to stretch and flatten the pieces. It is only when one gets up close for inspection that one is faced with the overwhelmingly solid nature of the work.

True to its title, the canvas oversteps its physical limits to depict the rigid, protective external covering of organic life. Yet, rather than emboldened security and confidence, it cowers and shirks from the viewer’s gaze; the pieces tightly contract at their center as if guarding precious secrets or enveloping tragic flaws. In such regards, it is deeply psychological, a representation of anxiety and unwillingness to participate in its own show. This presentation proves to be highly effective and engaging; the viewer experiences an urgency to understand and appreciate the work. In fact, with the intense colours, fascinating texture and crumpled form, the pieces harken to the doubts, hesitancy and awe that riddles the creative process.

The white canvas of Exoskeleton # 8 scrunched and centered upon the wall is the most telling of the old artistic habit: the quick practice of trashing an idea at the slightest dissatisfaction. It is a familiar but displaced sight (for it belongs – in a drastically smaller size – heaped in a waste basket) and causes one to wonder upon the merit and perhaps untold glory of the artistic process. This is made more pronounced not only by the seven radically different coloured versions installed beside it, but also the lone canvas puckered on the ground. Gazing upon the fallen piece with its wash of brilliant colour, it appears neglected, abandoned. Strangely enough, it feels unfinished despite its consistent form and treatment. Would lifting it up and tacking it to a white wall grant it value and beauty? Such is a question one ponders upon.

That said, as a critic, one cannot fail to mention the significance and immediacy of colour. It is not enough to simply acknowledge its vivid hue or sharp contrast for standing before the individual pieces, one is subjected to both intense emotion and renewed spirituality. Exoskeleton # 7 in particular provokes the most profound reaction. The colour is tranquil, yet it dances and ripples like pond water on a stormy summer day. Plain and unsettling, there is a strange tension that is felt throughout the exhibition, as if the surface, the exoskeleton, is shielding a darker reality from the viewer, a sinister experience that cannot bear to be recalled.

Overall, Ciobanica’s exhibition is a resounding success. It engages the viewer in multiple levels of thought from the simplistic to the awfully complex. Instead of ‘blankets’ as a passing viewer once noted, it explores what it means to have a fragile, sensitive exoskeleton, whether it is the artist’s own creative skin, the glaze that distinguishes good art from bad, or the shell of unspoken truths and experiences that bind everyone together. Therefore, beyond doubt, it is an exhibition that one can return to over and over again, approaching it with fresh eyes every time.  






February 4th, 2016

Sana Saleem

Exhibition review:


Exosketeon, Emanuel Ciobanica at Gales Gallery - Toronto


  Emanuel Ciobanica’s exhibition Exoskeleton, displayed at the Gales Gallery is simple in aesthetic but conveys the artist’s strong vision. I have seen Ciobanica’s pieces individually and exhibited within a shared space with other artists, I feel that a group exhibition did not do justice to her work. Seeing the range of paintings in one series, nine in total, which are displayed simply against white walls with one painting laying flat in the middle of the gallery the viewer is encompassed by the artist’s vision and creative process. The paintings in their entirety convey the possibilities of the work’s methodologies. Ciobanica has pushed the boundaries of paintings through tactile working of the canvas blurring the lines between sculpture and painting, she imposes a question on the limitations of both mediums. With strong influences of abstract expressionism and feminist’s critiques of the body through textile exploration Ciobanica exhibit Exoskeleton asserts a strong emerging artistic voice.

  I found myself particularly attracted to the piece which laid in the middle of the gallery. The piece “Oil Spill” has a wave of different colours emerging from its centre. The way it reacts to the lighting of the room emphasize the intentions of the exhibition’s arrangement. “Oil Spill” is darkened as only one light faces its direction and the distance diffuses the light as oppose to the other works which are lit by an individual spotlight. “Oil Spill’s lighting is particular to its subject matter as well as its placement on the ground, which are in conjunction with the subject matter. This piece is also critical in the exhibition’s commentary of medium and how they are conventionally displayed. As a painting, should this work be laid flat against the ground? How does that change the viewers gaze? Is the viewer more important than the painting? What does having sculpture on the ground say about the relationship between a viewer and the work? The artist questions the viewer on their interaction with the conventionalities of artistic traditions as well as our relationship with the world and our material and emotional bodies.

  Her work is reminiscent of feminist artist such as Jessica Bell and Karla Black which the artist found after she created the Exoskeleton series. Bells and Black’s fabric sculptures are the lineage to which Emanuel adds her vision. Ciobanica’s use of colour, jewel tones and heavy focus on abstraction shows her interest in exploring abstract expressionism, in particular her work is suggestive of a likeness to Mark Tobey’s 1954 “Canticle” with both paintings creating a mesh of material and nature. Ciobanica’s has created movement paintings through bunching the center of the canvas in a self described “wound” which is the centre of social critique and personal questioning.


  The transformation from the wound to the extended body shows in each work. The centre pulls the canvas in a knot and holds a tension that shapes the rest of the canvas. A journey of colours, textures, movement, ridges, flatness and lack there of develops from the centre tension. The fabric is a metaphor for the skin, in particular the wound which forms through trauma and seals itself from material permeation. The core of each canvas is hardened through wax which is than painted by airbrushed paints and poured acrylic. All the curves, bends, shadows, creases and texture of these sculptural paintings depict human cognitive and biological internal and external elements really well. Every piece has its own colour prism that creates individual life in every wound, a different narrative lies in every painting. A mix of organic shapes are contracted within a geometric canvas. Jewel tones lighten the subject matter of pain into the desired, with the exception of one pastel white canvas all of Ciobanica’s work are suggestive of natural and industrial material, which is a commentary on its own.

  Ciobanica’s exhibition is an indirect commentary on the human body but can be applied to socio political histories of physical and emotional trauma. The pieces are sublime, our wounds on the body are smaller in material, our wounds which inhibit us emotionally are invisible in texture and the wounds we carry as communities don’t exist in material. Emanuel’s canvases materialize the wounds to a larger than life scale making them playful but also palatable. These hypothetical wounds invite the viewer and engages them in such a complex way that they may experience emotional captivation within the fine details of each paint stroke. Our wounds inhabit a life of their own much like each one of Ciobanica’s paintings except this times we are detached, in control and these wounds are not unwanted.




February 24, 2016

VOL 50 - Issue #22

Excalibur Newspaper Interview

The Power of skin

Vishwaveda Joshi, Contributor

As an individual who enjoys art and is an advocate of self-healing, I was drawn into Gales Gallery and was glad to see Emanuel Ciobanica’s solo art series Exoskeleton, which ran from February 1 to February 20. Upon entering the gallery, I essayed to comprehend the mysterious grafts with unconventional symbolism.

Excalibur got a chance to speak with Ciobanica, a fifth-year visual art and art history student at York, working in a wide range of media to glean the meaning of the series full of mystery. Ciobanica says she has always been inspired by biology, psychoanalysis, and the properties she knows about skin. Combined with her recent personal introspection sessions, this led to the creation of this abstracted symbolic piece of art.

With a mixed media solo art exhibition, Ciobanica explores the transformative power of skin using sculpture material, special colours, and wax. “As far as the symbolism goes, wax is commonly used in nature to preserve [objects] and [acts] as a protective layer the same way as skin would,” she says.

Exoskeleton is a compendium of frankly visionary pieces of art. Each piece within the series, named very creatively, maps a different stage of an emotional journey related to physical and psychological healing. “Dissolution” for example, is talking about that feeling you get watching a strong relationship or connection dissolve and the paradoxical void, pain, and empowerment that comes with it.

Another example is “Burning Silence,” representing the moment when you know you just accidentally stepped on another person’s psychological land mines which follows with that intense silence (that you savour and dread) right before an argument sparks, explains Ciobanica.

The stylized skin grafts strive to convey a sense of personal tension and transformation, leaving the viewer perplexed and brings into focus the fundamental function of skin and its regenerative capacity and the toxicity created by humans in environmental and social realms of interaction. The series is informed by the artist’s traditional sculpture background in combination with modern concepts and graffiti techniques.

“As for Exoskeleton, the most essential part was creating an objective distance from the strong and diverse emotions connected to the theme in order to synthesize and create better symbols. I wanted to externalize a few complex ideas but there is always a great new way and an easy, illustrative, and superficial way of creating artwork. From the beginning, I was seeing it as a conceptual opportunity to develop a different language within my artistic practice.”

This exhibition was a means of representing human skin as a protective covering that has the power to heal physical and psychological wounds. “The reason I chose to exhibit these pieces is because I feel many people could relate to the concept and it’s a fairly untapped theme,” adds Ciobanica. The artwork was inspired by her personal quest for peace of mind and balance that invoked mystery and inquiry, rendering all who saw the exhibit to think about the power of skin.

And that is the power of art.

Article source: http://www.excal.on.ca/the-power-of-skin/


Coming soon:

-  In depth artwork critique and context analysis by noted Canadian Art critic

- Notable Magazine feature


Emanuel Ciobanica at work, installing the series in the Gales Gallery.

Emanuel Ciobanica: "Burning Silence"

 Acrylic and wax on raw canvas, 2015

5′ x 5′


Professor Janet Jones (left) and Willowdale Group of Artists member Margie Wagner (right) standing with Emanuel Ciobanica beside her painting, facets of personality, at York University’s Visual Arts Open House on April 15, 2015.


Exoskeleton #8

Exoskeleton #7


Exoskeleton #2: Oil Spill, 5ft x 5ft

Acrylic and wax on raw canvas, 2015

Mark Tobey  Canticle, 1954

Mark Tobey

Canticle, 1954

Karla Black - What to ask of others, 2008