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).