The Luciferic Dance. The lost horn of the UNICORN.


The exhibition will be open
between February 20 and 28, 2022
Art gallery Th. Pallady, of the Union of Plastic Artists from IASI, Str. Alexandru Lăpușneanu, no. 7-9, Iasi

The dance of a world in crisis. The lost horn of the Unicorn 

There are few who do not feel the fascination of dance. We could simply dance, improvising in our free time to relax, or we could practice dance performance; we could dance alone, unhindered by the gaze of others, or, on the contrary, we could dance with others, enjoying ourselves together. In Iulian Copăcel’s compositions, dance does not seem to fit into any of these forms: dance is neither an individual search for intimacy nor a collective manifestation of happiness. Dance, on the other hand, is the only way to manifest a world in crisis, a world that has lost its former balance and that tends to find its meaning. It is about the “breaking” of a world tormented by the loss of identity, which it obsessively tries to recover, through dance, regardless of its nature. 

In this crisis, the world is looking for dance, because only this – whatever its forms – can give cohesion to the collective. Why the dance? Because the imbalance of beings is closely related to the breakdown of the original meaning of existence, which simple words no longer have the strength to encompass/restore. And where the word has lost its power, only onomatopoeia and movements remain. However, for the rediscovery of unity, the movements must regain harmony, synchronize, transform into a dance of destiny.

In the universe imagined by Iulian Copăcel, we wake up as spectators in front of a Luciferic dance, which captures a swirling world. According to Blagian philosophy, Luciferic knowledge “seizes the inner balance” of the object split in two: with a seen/revealed side and a hidden/mystery side. This split leads to the birth of a crisis in the unbalanced object, which becomes “a mere visible sign of an essentially hidden mystery” or, in other words, “an open mystery” (see Blaga, 2013: 257). From this perspective, in the artist’s vision, dance represents the manifestation of beings who discover a critical disturbance in their universe and try together to re-find its hidden meaning, coherence, unity. Moreover, in Chinese traditions, dance – associated with the rhythm of numbers – is perceived as an ordering element of the world, which has the power to tame wild animals, to establish harmony between Heaven and Earth (see Chevalier & Gheerbrant, 2009: 325- 326).

As can be noted, in most of Iulian Copăcel’s creations, the dance is a collective one, because the crisis does not occur at the level of the individual, but at the level of the whole world; it is about a world that wants both to regain its former breath and to overcome its limits like the overflow of a river. A crisis can only be overcome by breaking out of the boundaries that sustain it, and the Luciferic dance is the only way to save the being. 


The Luciferic dance brings to the fore the open mystery of the movements of beings, which hesitate between verticality, ascent, apparent relaxation, as in the work Overflow, and descent, bending, straining, as in the Breath. In any case, every time, you can feel the thrill of the collective which, through dance, tends towards the state of balance, of harmony. The silhouettes seek coordination, aiming to break through unbalanced materiality like the threads of a tangled ball. In this direction, at the chromatic level, the predominant black enhances the mystery, the impenetrable meanings, while red, green or blue suggest vitality, the hope of finding the original unity. The progress of the Luciferic dance is not to be sought on the surface,

in the shown/known/figurative plastic dimension, but – like Luciferic knowledge – it is realized in depth, in the abstract dimension of mystery. In Iulian Copăcel’s compositions – under consideration here – true knowledge in a world in crisis is only possible through dance

Doamna si inorogul

Going further, on a symbolic level, the world that wants to find itself through dance oscillates between the myth of the unicorn and that of the flyer. Moreover, in order to intuit its origins, we will take as a point of reference the very work The Lady and the Unicorn, apparently devoid of any direct connection with the network of dance meanings. Without insisting on the birth of the zoomorphic symbol of the unicorn, it must be emphasized that it was approached over time from a double perspective: the myth of the unicorn was associated, on the one hand, with the legend of its capture with the help of a maiden (the medieval version , focused on Christic symbolic coordinates), and on the other hand, it was interpreted through the prism of the healing properties of the miraculous horn as a panacea (Renaissance belief, as a legacy of antiquity). In whatever paradigm we place ourselves, the unicorn is attracted by the presence of the maiden, a fact that will bring him capture or even death (see Crețu, 2013: 128-166). Moreover, in Iulian Copăcel’s composition, the suggestions of sacrifice can be found in the image of the unicorn, which ceases to be a symbol of purity, perfection, and power: the red spot on the unicorn’s leg highlights the idea of bleeding, of “kneeling”, of vulnerability. Through this prism, the connotations of plastic discourse are multiple, falling within the sphere of desacralization. On the one hand, the horn has an insignificant size, in contrast to the disproportionate representation of the body, a sign that the unicorn has lost its former purifying force. On the other hand, the horn is here associated with the wings, the symbolism of flight also intersecting with the myth of the flyer, which, from a certain angle, circumscribes the syntax of desacralization. Often, the flyer is imagined in popular belief as a miraculous, evil being, which can also appear in the form of a kite, a snake with wings or as a flame, causing suffering to the girls, disturbing them (see Candrea, 1999: 182 -183). In the end, it’s all about a crisis, an erotic one. It is certain that this symbol of the wing (much more obvious than that of the horn) crystallizes both in the plane of the unicorn and in that of the virgin. Indeed, it seems to be about two planes between which a visible barrier has been erected, and flight can be the saving solution to get out of the impasse; the unicorn no longer appears in close proximity to the maiden, as in medieval representations where she gently touches his horn, but, on the contrary, although he is in front of the girl, contemplating her, he cannot cross the border that separates them. The two appear captured in static poses, as if in a kind of solidification in the materiality of a despiritualized world. However, the symbol of the bird develops the meanings of a potential salvation, of ascension in order to rediscover the lost harmony. Now this, if not possible by flight on the cosmic plane, can be achieved by dancing on the telluric plane. Here, in fact, is the key: the only way out of the crisis, of fulfillment, is the Luciferic dance itself.

The Luciferic dance arises, in essence, from the repeated attempts of beings to free themselves. The dancing figures are in a constant search, groping, hesitating, either stuck in instinctive movements, or let themselves be carried gracefully by fluid rhythms. Dancing means agitation, unleashing, the movements turning into gestures of a ceremonial detached from other times; we can glimpse suggestions of a pagan, tribal dance, with beings bent or even kneeling, caught in the nets of the incantation, seized by a consuming fire, which carries our thought – in this direction of the connotations of the dance as ritual art, rhythmic release,

circular energy – towards Matisse’s Dance. Even when the dance becomes more temperate, placed in the sphere of modernity, the signs of the ritual do not disappear: for example, in the Ascension composition, the movements of the dancers (whose clothing appears nuanced this time, emphasizing the departure from primordial purity) are oriented on a ascending axis: on the peaks, with the hands stretched towards the sky or together in prayer, in a circle. The silhouettes no longer seek release by bowing to the ground, but by soaring to the heights. Thus, we meet both the frenzy of the ritual dance, accompanied as if by ancient incantations, and the elegance of the ballet charged with a special sensitivity.


Sometimes the beings lose their coordination, grouping together in a static attempt at synchronization, at other times they go wild with an unknown thrill. At a certain moment, the silhouettes – increasingly subject to abstraction with expressionist valences, more or less close to Pollock’s complex structures – become part of the vibrations of the dance, surpass their limits, merging with nature itself.

So, in whatever aspect it manifests itself, improvised or elaborated, “dance is celebration, dance is language. Language beyond the word” (Chevalier & Gheerbrant, 2009: 325-326), whose structuring leads to an ecstatic liberation, beyond temporal coordinates. Such a language is articulated with particular force in Iulian Copăcel’s compositions, which capture – through an original syntax – the expressiveness of the rhythm, the dynamism of a world in search of balance. In this world, dance purifies, restores coherence, saves being.

  • Blaga, Lucian, Trilogia cunoașterii, Ed. Humanitas, București, 2013. 
  • Candrea, I. Aurel, Folclorul medical român comparat. Privire generală. Medicina magică, Ed. Polirom, Iaşi 1999. 
  • Chevalier, Jean; Gheerbrant, Alain (coord.), Dicționar de simboluri: mituri, vise, obiceiuri, gesturi, forme, figuri, culori, numere, Ed. Polirom, Iaşi 2009. 
  • Creţu, Bogdan, Inorogul la porţile Orientului. Bestiarul lui Dimitrie Cantemir: studiu 

comparativ, vol. I, Ed. Institutul European, Iași, 2013. 

Text: Marius Pintilii

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