Romania’s art scene is still growing with a new generation of upcoming artists and curators, or simply late discoveries such as Ana Lupaș and Geta Brătescu, having gained fame only late in their long careers. Another category of artists of the same age group are those who succeeded in escaping the political constraints of the time, and we seldom hear about it in Romania, namely Myra Landau or Marion Baruch, who had the exceptional chance to emigrate to Israel in 1950.
Romania was subjected to dictatorship between 1947 and 1989, while the 1950s were a decade that represented the peak of communist censorship. Creating or being an artist during those times was not easy, it meant either to conform to the socialist realism or to subvert it, while the postwar society was a strict outcome of the Soviet colonization. Today contemporary artists growing up in the Post-Communist aftermath, undertake a vital role of creating alternative views of the present. A significant number graduated from the ‘’Cluj School,’’ regarded as an art historical phenomenon due to its prolific output of acknowledged artists and painters, most of them males, thinking of Adrian Ghenie, Victor Man, Marius Bercea, Mircea Suciu or Mircea Cantor, but the field is still largely unexplored with female artists to be discovered, just like Ioana Iacob who graduated from the same art school.
Most of the art institutions in Romania are public with a few private initiatives such as the Recent Art Museum (MARe) in Bucharest, the first one of its kind since the opening of the Simu Museum in 1910. A new sombre construction that feels overwhelmed by the art collection of businessman Roger Akoury. Timișoara has drawn its place on the contemporary art map with the Art Encounters Biennial (founded in 2015 by the art collector and entrepreneur Ovidiu Șandor) and Kunsthalle Bega (founded in 2019 by the Calina Foundation.) The commercial galleries sector is still under development after the road has been paved by Galeria Plan B, omnipresent at most of the international art fairs and biennials, but finally there are new promising galleries catching up with the art market trends and requests.
As I have named already some of the male artists playing their significant role on the international art scene I would like to mention eight of the most interesting female figures representative for the Romanian art scene locally or abroad:
Ana Lupaș (b. 1940), artist from Cluj, Transylvania. Her conceptual approach has strongly influenced a whole generation of Romanian artists, with a clearly avant-garde perspective, she has developed performative and conceptual practices, some ephemeral, direct interventions, mainly in nature. Her work is strongly connected to the rural world in Transylvania, to the ancestral rites and its everyday practices.
Marion Baruch (b. 1929), artist originally from Timișoara, she’s a multilingual true cosmopolite, now living and working in Gallarate, Italy. She’s known for using the left-overs of the textile industry, creating fabric sculptures and interlacing the immaterial forces of space and memory. In her work, void has a shape while waste becomes an object. In 1948 Marion was admitted to the Fine Arts Academy in Bucharest, the following year she had the rare chance to study in Jerusalem.
In the mid-1950s she went to Rome and after living between Italy and Paris, she settled in Gallarate, where she continues her artistic work.
Andra Ursuţa (b. 1979), coming from Salonta, a town on the Romanian – Hungarian border, she left for the United States in 1997 where she studied art history and visual arts at the Columbia University in New York.
She’s known for her paradoxical sculptural work and installations. She deals with topics of nostalgia and memory fused with everyday items and popular culture, while she’s making use of traditional techniques mixed with new technologies, such as 3D printing.
Maria Rus Bojan is an Amsterdam-based Romanian curator and advisor. She has curated many international exhibitions, including Romanian artists such as Ana Lupaș, Ion Grigorescu or Paul Neagu. She has contributed to the debut of today’s most successful artists such as Victor Man, Adrian Ghenie and Ciprian Muresan. After her long-term collaboration with the German artist, Ulay (1943-2020), she is the editor and co-author of the first his monograph, ‘’Whispers.’’ Bojan is chairman of the European ArtEast Foundation, collaborating with various international institutions like Tate Modern as an advisor for the Eastern European Committee of Acquisition.
Alexandra Pirici (b. 1982) is a Romanian artist and choreographer from Bucharest. Classically trained as a dancer and choreographer she is known for staging performances and installations based on historical narratives and invisible structures of power. Pirici works in institutions and museum contexts, often fusing dance, sculpture, spoken word and music. Her performances are often part of private and public collections as live actions.
Marieta Chirulescu (b. 1974) is a Romanian artist from Sibiu who lives and works in Berlin. She is known for her ongoing preoccupation with the conceptual aesthetic of color. She uses a variety of media, including print, scan and altered personal photographs or those by her father during Communism. The subjects of her works belong to the imaginary and dive into abstraction.
Anca Munteanu Rimnic (b. 1979) is an artist from Bucharest who at the age of six immigrated to Germany with her parents. Today she lives and works in Berlin. Her work reflects on notions of heritage, often employing traditional techniques outlining their ‘’cultural significance.’’ Her installations using objects, photographs and videos link personal narratives with social stories and identities.
Diana Marincu (b. 1986) is a curator and art critic based in Romania, and currently the Artistic Director of Art Encounters Foundation in Timișoara. In her curatorial projects she’s focused on identity discourses and artists working with research topics and strategies of image-construction. Some of her recent exhibitions include: Harun Farocki & Antje Ehmann, Reality Would Have to Begin, Art Encounters Foundation, Timișoara (2020), Persona, MUCEM, Marseille (2019); Manufacturing Nature / Naturalizing the Synthetic, Frac des Pays de la Loire (2018), and so on.
Text by Maria Nitulescu