Dumitru Radu, Echo, [year?], Senso Art Gallery, Bucharest, December 2017
Bronze and marble
30 x 30 x 30 cm
This figure doesn’t move inside the bell, so it’s not quite a bell clapper, but with its trumpet and openings in its body suggests to me someone who has embraced a certain space of meaning—certain themes from the past, for instance—and turns to that space—that of the bell—to amplify his concerns in a certain way, his voice growing in the echo of others who have worked before him (in this respect, to me the bell he’s echoing into could be the trumpet of a predecessor like him).
This type of bell is, in fact, in Dumitru Radu’s oeuvre some kind of funnel, one that brings us in and out of existence, and also a musical instrument through which the music of God resonates. For more about this approach see this presentation by Luiza Barcan at Simeza Art Gallery in Bucharest in 2014. (The talk is in Romanian but the video shows many of Radu’s recent sculptures.)
I went to visit several artist workshops last weekend, as this month over 70 artists In Bucharest and Mogosoaia are opening their premises to visitors on weekends on the occasion of the George Enescu Classical Music Festival.
One of the artists I visited was graphic artist Carmen Paraschivescu. Her workshop is filled with intricate designs in mixed media, the ornamental tracery pinning down vivid, effusive inspiration. Here are two works she did for an art salon on Bucharest. They are titled Spiritual Bucharest and Crazy Bucharest.
Spiritual Bucharest (detail)
Spiritual Bucharest (detail)
And here are two other works of hers
Carmen Paraschivescu will open her workshop next weekend too, so if you’d like to have a look at these pieces, she’ll be happy to receive you for a chat and a glass of wine at Str. Doamnei nr. 5 (the tower on the corner of Academiei and Doamnei streets) between 12 noon and 8 p.m.
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.
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.
I visited the new exhibition at the Victoria Art Center yesterday, and, while I liked all of the pieces, I was quite impressed with one of them in particular, Cătălin Burcea’s The First and The Last Step (Primul și ultimul pas, in Romanian).
The work consists of four segments of charred wood laid upon a narrow bed of sand. First things first: why four pieces and a single log? The parts may be a reference, perhaps, to the four nucleotide bases of a DNA strand, or, alternatively, to the idea of steps–considered separately from the first and the last step mentioned in the title. Moving on, it’s easy to see why these pieces of wood, passed through fire, a step before returning to the earth as ashes (and you can see in the detail below how chips of it are already coming loose and taking that road), is the last step. But how is it the first step? Maybe the fire that consumes us is a spiritual moment that allows us to be born. Maybe we’re already charred wood when we’re born (the old idea of birth as the first step towards death). I feel it’s this second idea, tied to birth, that gives this piece its oomph. The idea that with every breath we take we die a little–just as a light breeze will eat at this charred log.