This year has been full of decent and less commercial projects. It was a year of explorations, of trial and error and last but not least a year in which I have tried to re-adapt my life to living in a small city in which contemporary art has a steady and inconsistent presence only in shopping malls, coffee houses and pubs. In Sibiu, contemporary art shows have become similar to the circus coming to town. When the circus is in town, certain expectations are raised and there’s a promising hustle and bustle that ends abruptly and you are left with the feeling that it was only a dream and that the artists are, in fact, sword swallowers.
My art projects this year have varied from commissions from people and private companies, to finishing my first “serious” oil painting, political illustrations and the beginning of a personal project that will span over the next 10 years. Let me explain…
In 2018 I visited Bâlea Lake for the first time, a glacier lake situated at an altitude of 2,034 meters. Yes, I know, it is so close to Sibiu that I do not get how I spent my whole life without ever getting there… Me and my partner Camil explored the area for several hours climbing on every rock on the peak until we stumbled upon the “mothership”. It looked like it was placed there by a huge machine but what had actually happened was far more impressive. The huge piece of rock had collapsed from the mountain crest for some reason. It seemed to have been an event that shook the mountain. The rock had been there for a very long time.
I took pictures of it, we got back home and in a couple of days I started the sketches for what was to become a painting. My experience of working with acrylics was limited to small-size paintings and I knew that this painting would have to be very big in order to be seen from a distance, as it happened to me when I found the mothership. So I started contemplating doing the painting in oil colors.
It is not completely true that I had never worked in this technique but I had never taken things systematically, never learning about linseed oil and turpentine. Since my workshop started to take on the smell of the substances I was now using I knew that I had to work on this project on a daily basis. I developed the discipline of working with oil colors and it took me 6 months to finish the painting (the project is not over, I still have to frame the artwork). I hope you will get to see it soon in all its splendor hanging on a wall. I would very much like to show it publicly before it enters someone’s home.
The second major project this year was my collaboration with Passport Productions, a production company specializing in documentary film-making. I created a series of illustrations for their documentary “Belina – The Captured Island” (3 out of 4 episodes have been uploaded online, you can watch them here). I was presented with a very good opportunity to exorcise my fears about what was to come after 3 years of faulty political measures taken by a corrupt government. If not for this project I would have probably felt disillusioned. I have written extensively about this project and other political stuff here.
The personal project I mentioned in the beginning is my intention to create a graphic novel/comic strip about a piece of my family history, namely my grandmother’s refuge from Bessarabia alongside her sister and parents. They were fleeing the advancement of the Russian army on the Eastern front during the 2nd World War. It is essentially a story about a woman’s ability to restart her life several times not only due to her refugee status but also after a very dark period spent as a political prisoner in a communist prison and all the hurdles she had to clear to have a peaceful life.
My maternal grandmother, Nina Bosânceanu, is the bravest, most creative and expansive person in my family. At 92 years old she is still extremely active, she always votes in elections and she does not let a day pass her by without doing something spectacular. I started to draw part of the life stories she’s been telling me while she writes her memoir with her visibly swollen arthritic fingers.
The second edition of Street Delivery Sibiu was held in August and I participated with a series of alternative road signs that were meant to make people more aware of the climate crisis and the need to act accordingly. I also painted and mounted a panel called “The panel of infrequently used idioms” (1,5 x 3 meters) as an attempt to capture the Zeitgeist through a series of idioms and drawings such as “take my word for it” (referring to police calls made by women which are not taken seriously), “exposure to happiness is only temporary”, “do not use faulty tools” alongside a drawing of Trump etc. I mounted a mirror in the middle of the wooden panel on which I wrote “do you look suspicious?”. Each viewer had to decide looking into the mirror.
The autumn months brought a lot of commissions my way, among which was also a reproduction of a digital artwork by Marko Manev, a poster for the movie The Fellowship of the Ring from the Lord of the Rings Trilogy. The greatest challenge of this project was that I had to make the Elven language inscription by hand using a glitter pen. The artwork was recreated using only ink as I tried to convey the same atmosphere that characterized the original piece. Alexandru, the commissioner, was very pleased with how it turned out and the artwork is now in Germany.
I am starting to receive more and more commissions, which makes me really happy. That means people are becoming increasingly aware of the artists and artisans in their community and realise that they are better off paying them for a unique and customized gift than throwing their money on cheap products made in China. Or maybe I am surrounded by wonderful people who just want to support my work.
If you have placed an order with me this year or if you have bought TOM products from Humanitas bookstores or from me, I thank you with all my heart. I send you all my love. Continue to support artists and watch this space. Next year is going to be filled with magical projects!
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