Watercolors by Ioana Nicoara, AnnArt Gallery, Bucharest, November 2017
Upon seeing them, I had the sense right away that they visualize inner life. Inner life of the cells, or, barring that (cell life looks different: more geometric and compact), the life of our emotions permeating us like breaths or whooshing over us, coming together with neurons firing sparks of thought and cells responding to all that energy, electric . . .
Two weeks ago I had the pleasure of seeing Ciprian Istrate’s exhibition A’TOPIA at Galateca in downtown Bucharest. His portraits are arresting—which is no surprise given that he painted church murals for twenty years. Have a look for yourself! I could see speed, assurance, and “mirror eyes,” as the curator Iulia Gorneanu dubbed them, eyes which draw our attention in so many ways, and every time with a vigorous intensity which both pulls us in and keeps us at a distance as if in awe of their presence.
Marian Ionescu of the band Direcţia 5 has had his first painting exhibition this year at the largest contemporary art fair in Romania, Art Safari. He then exhibited at ARCUB. Here’s one of my favorite paintings of his show there. It’s titled Urban, and for some reason reminds me of Keith Haring’s lines. It also speaks to me of how we try to impose rational lines onto a city to oppose its organic growth, and how at the end the fabric of that city is a jumbled mixture of lines that make up a palimpsest of its urban history.
Zlatko Mušić is a 31-year-old artist from Bosnia and Herzegovina. Recently one of his paintings (shown above) was chosen to be displayed on a hi-res screen by the Saatchi Gallery in London.
I’ve had the pleasure of an interview with the artist. Here it is.
Mira Tudor: Hi Zlatko, looking through your portfolio at https://zlatkomusicart.wordpress.com/portfolio, I’m struck how versatile you are, moving with gusto from one style to another. I see the influence of Cézanne, Expressionism and de Kooning, but also of Caillebotte, Collage, and Digital Art. I would like to ask you, what are your favorite artists and why?
Zlatko Mušić: The diversity in my artworks probably comes from different styles and artists that had an influence on me, but among the many great artists I like, I consider Cézanne the greatest. Besides Paul Cézanne I would like to mention also Marc Chagall, Edward Hopper and Mark Rothko as some of my favorite painters and influences.
All of these artists together are definition of pure art, in my opinion. Chagall with his imaginative storytelling scenes and bold use of colors, Hopper, on the other hand, with his use of light and the suspenseful atmosphere in paintings, and Rothko, of course, with his monumentality and his understanding of space in painting. They all influenced my work greatly, but in the words of Picasso, Cézanne is the father of us all.
MT: What medium was your favorite when you started making art? Was it always painting?
ZM: Painting was always my favorite medium. In the past, I liked to draw a lot besides painting, but with time as I took more interest in abstract and semi-abstract styles of painting I started to use colors more and to draw less.
MT: Do you work on commission? What are some of your paintings that you created on commission, and what can you tell me about your experience of working with a client to create a painting?
ZM: I work on commission often lately and it’s very challenging. For me, lots of commissions are based on earlier paintings I did—the client often wants something similar to my paintings that he saw in my portfolio or somewhere else. It’s very important to retain creative freedom, but at the same time meet the needs of the client. I’ve also had a few commissions where I had total freedom to do what I wanted, so it all depends on the client. The latest commission I had was a series of abstract landscapes also based on some of my earlier works. You can see one of them on my blog: https://zlatkomusicart.wordpress.com/2017/01/24/the-new-world-abstract-landscape
Mira Tudor: Hi Emily, I discovered your paintings in your online gallery at http://www.emilymagone.com and was quite taken with the effects you seem to get with acrylics, as in the Misted Trees One, which has a “misty” push and pull redolent of the iridescence of silk. It also has neutral tones reminiscent of Asian art. What Asian artists, and artists in general, have been important on your journey?
Emily Magone: This is a beautiful question, and something I hadn’t realized until you asked! Being self-taught and growing up in an isolated town, I didn’t have much exposure to the arts (much to my dramatic teenage chagrin). My college degrees are unrelated as well, so my knowledge of art history is rather basic. The most influential artist on my journey remains my high school art teacher, Dave Studebaker–who specialized in Western- and Native American-themed landscapes and scenes–and taught perfect rendering. The world lost him far too early and I have immense gratitude for the safe space and influence his classroom provided during those years.
I have great appreciation for the delicate and peaceful style of Asian art, and I’ve done quite a bit of painting on silk over the past few years as an exploratory medium–which has perhaps influenced my work on other surfaces. But the richness of acrylic on canvas will always have my heart. 🙂
MT: You seem to have spent quite a lot of time with trees, mist, and the sea (or ocean). Why these elements? What do you associate them most with in terms of your inner life? And what are the places that you go back to in your memory when you paint these scenes?
EM: I have indeed! I was born and raised in the northwest corner of Montana with frequent trips to the Washington coast. The trees and mist are elements that bring me the most peace and calm. The floating silence of the fog as it settles between the trees–I can go there in my mind in an instant and feel the cool mist on my face and hear the sounds of the earth minus humans.
These feelings are what I want to bring to others as well: the calm and serenity. It’s so important to maintain our connection with nature on a daily basis. It is healing in so many ways.
My childhood memories of full days spent in the woods on my bike building forts, eating honeysuckle, mushroom hunting, catching giant frogs in the creek and collecting gorgeous rocks are what fuels my woodland paintings. And I am forever returning to the Pacific Northwest in my mind. The Olympic Peninsula and the Washington coast in particular. Glacier Park, and in recent years, the Norwegian Fjords and the Croatian coast.
One of my next goals is to get some first-hand exposure to the Northern Lights to fuel a full Aurora collection of work!
MT: Thank you, Emily, for this interview. Happy journeys!
I saw two portraits by Daniela Donțu at the Elite Art Gallery a few days ago, and was quite struck by her technique and aesthetic. Here’s Stări (1) (States [of Mind] (1) ) and Gânduri (Thoughts).
For some reason I couldn’t identify right away, I found these paintings mesmerizing. It took some photographing of old photos to realize what has drawn me to Donțu’s work, States [of Mind] (1) in particular. It’s the way the fluid handling of paint creates the suggestion of reflection-filled layers, as if you were looking at the man through a series of windows—or veils of affective memory.