Category Archives: 1. Little Story

Ioan Petru Culianu – mysteries in live and death


In 21 May 1991, at only 42 years old, Ioan Petru Culianu, Professor of the Religion  history  at the University of Chicago, was shot once in the back of the head. The murder took place in the bathroom of Swift Hall of the University of Chicago in a day when the building was full with visitors to a book sale.

Why and by who? is a question that still remains without answer.

But who was he? Ioan Petru Culianu, as many as you already know, was a Romanian historian of religion and culture, a short story writer, philosopher and political essayist, born in 1950 in Iasi, Romania.

In an interview made in 1990 by his student Emanuel Guano he said that he had decided to become a writer at  the age of 13 choosing between physics and literature as a carrier for live. At the age of 17 years old, he has already started being published in Romania. As student at the University of Bucharest he was studying also the history of religious, dreaming going in Indi as Mircea Eliade once did. After refusing the collaboration with the Romanian Security (Romanian Intelligence) during the communist period, in 1970, his new book was censored. In 1972, he leaves the country (some say that he succeeds in leaving Romania because finally he collaborates) to travel in Italy where he had obtained political asylum and then a scholarship.  He later graduated from the Università Cattolica Del Sacro Cuore in Milan. He lived briefly in France and the Netherlands, before leaving Europe for Chicago.

After leaving Romania, he tried many times to go in Chicago at Mircea Elide. Shortly, he became the most loved and respected student of Mircea Eliade, he worked with him at the final tome of the notorious “Historian of religions” and at “Dictionnaire des Religions”. One of the three last wishes of the great philosopher and expert in religions’ history Mircea Eliade was that all of his manuscripts to be left to Ioan Petru Culianu, “the only friend to whom he has so many to say”, the only one who has the knowledge to understand. After the death of Ioan Petru Culianu, the manuscripts of Mircea Eliade were taken by the University of Chicago and then donated to the Louvre Museum.

Ioan Petru Culianu, being proficient in seven languages (Sanskrit, Hindi, French, Italian, German, Greek, English) and completed three doctorates (one in Milano, Italy and two in Sorbonne, France), was an encyclopedic personality. His studies were focusing on the interrelation of the Occult, Eros, Magic, History and Physics being specialized in Renaissance magic and mysticism. Some of his later studies were trying to decode the “myth” that lays in physics, like in Einstein equations upon universe and so to find the bridges between science and religion, mystic, history. Being seen by some criticizes more as a Faust with successful books in libraries than as a savant, Ioan Petru Culianu was definitely attracted in his work by dark, occult, demons.

After the Romanian Revolution in 1989, Ioan Petru Culianu criticized the new power in Bucharest, calling it just a new communist. He was also against the rights political Romanian formations, making requests for investigation of Holocaust in Romania during the war. That is why some say he was murdered by the Romanian Security or by KGB, some by the neo-fascist involvement.

Apparently, in the last years of his live, he was starting to attend occult movements, secrets societies. Experts in occultism see his dead as a punishment; he was killed in the closet just for having a degrading death. Many aspects of his live remain a mystery and his death, “the perfect murder”, the greater of his mysteries.

I let you choose a script for his life, “Nikita” or “Da Vinci’s Code”? Or maybe “Alias” because this one has both, secret services and secret societies.


Gheorghe Leonida – Romanian contribution to “Cristo Redentor”


Visiting in Romania Bran Castle, Peles Castle, The Museum of the Technique or The Romania’s Art Museum, you can find works of the sculptor Gheorghe Leonida like  “Eve”, “The Reader”, “The Wounded Soldier”, “Prometheus” , “The Gymnast”, “A Seated Woman”, “Saint George Killing the Dragon”.

But  Gheorghe Leonida’s name became famous after his contribution at the statue “Cristo Redentor” (“Christ the Redeemer”)  in Rio de Janeiro, edifice classified in 2007 as one of the seven new wonders of the world.

From a family who gave Romania also other great personalities (inventor Dimitrie Leonida and one of the world’s first women engineers Elisa Leonida), Gheorghe Leonida was born in Galati, Romania in 1893. He studied sculpture at the Fine Arts Conservatory in Bucharest, than he continued his studies for three years in Italy where he gained also a prize with his sculpture “Reveil” (the Dream). Gheorghe Leonida lived than in Paris where his work “Le Diable” (the Devil) was awarded the Grand Prize.

Becoming famous in France as portraitist,  he was included by Paul Landowsky in the team that started working at the gigantic statue from Rio de Janeiro in 1922. Gheorghe Leonida contributed to portraying Jesus Christ’s face, which made him famous worldwide.

The communist regime in Romania banned Gheorghe Leonida especially for his work entitled “Queen Marie’s Bust” which depicts queen Marie of Edinburgh, the wife of King Ferdinand. That is why the work of Gheorghe Leonida was not publicized in Romania for many years.

“Cristo Redentor” (“Christ the Redeemer”) 

“Christ the Redeemer” is a statue of Jesus Christ located at 700 meters altitude on the Corcova Mountain, overlooking Rio de Janeiro city. It is considered the largest Art Deco statue in the world and 5th largest statue of Jesus in the world: 39.6 meters tall, 9.5 meters pedestal, 30 meters wide, 635 tones. “Christ the Redeemer” is now more than a monument is a symbol of Christianity worldwide.

The statue was designed by the local engineer Heitor da Silva Costa, sculpted by the team conducted by the French sculptor Paul Landowski and built by a group of engineers and technicians in reinforced concrete after the plans of Albert Caquot. The construction took nine years, from 1922 to 1931.

Christ the Redeemer was named one of the New Seven Wonders of the World in a list compiled by the Swiss-based The New Open World Corporation in 2007 and declared a protected monument by the National Heritage Institute in 2009.


The Romanian traditional folk costumes – source of inspiration


One of the things that impressed me the most were the Romanian traditional costumes kept with great care by my grandmother. Initially worn by her grandmother, with an age of more than 120 years, its represent one of the most amazing forms of art.

Kept with great care in many Romanian families for generations, the traditional costumes are all made manually only with natural fibers coloured only with natural coloures. Sometimes made from one of the most fine material, floss silk, hand embroidered, with a stitch point that is just as thin as you can see. The models are very varied, increadibly richeness patterns, with typical models for each region of the country.

                              Brooklyn Museum, USA

I don’t have the education to be in rightful to speak about the Romanian traditional costumes, but I would like to remind some of the great creators that were inspired by the Romanian traditional folk costumes.

Henri Matisse – La blouse roumaine (The Romanian Blouse)

The celebre Henri Matisse, recognized initially as a „Fauve”, an upholder in fact of the classical tradition in French painting, was fascinated by the Romanian traditional folk costumes, especially by the specific blouse named “ie”.

The Romanian blouses were received by Henri Matisse as a present from his friend, the Romanian painter Theodor Pallady.

In 1940, during the hard period of war, Henri Matisse painted “La blouse roumaine”, one of his masterpieces.

Recently, Antonio Mega Ferreira  has launched at Lisbon a new novel “A blusa romena” inspired by the celebre painting of Henry Matisse.



“La blouse roumaine“ a story started by Matisse (March 18, 2012)

Queen Mary of Romania – the first promoter of the Romanian folk costumes (April 25, 2012)

Brancusi – the symbol of kiss


On Facebook  … one of my friend, after visiting London, posted a picture with Tate Modern … Rodin’s Kiss, one of three full-scale versions being there … passionate love, wonderful embrace … a powerful kiss without actually touching lips … and beyond, the captivating story of Francesca da Rimini and Paolo Malatesta … a really masterpiece.

Then, another Facebook friend  … pictures from Louvre … one of them „Psyche revived by the kiss of Love” … Antonio Canova … I still remember the feeling of seeing it … so perfect in everything … one of the most beautiful thing I’ve ever seen … the image, the feeling … never will forget.

News on Facebook, the most known sculptures … number six – The Kiss by Rodin, number five – The Kiss by Brancusi … Brancusi’s kiss is definitely the one which inspired the most artists, hundreds of variants after “The Kiss” of Brancusi still occur … embrace in a block of stone … bond and passion … so close and tight that no one can come between … the everlasting idea of love.

What is the most beautiful kiss in sculpture? Can you choose?

For me … maybe because I have  lived in this century and so I feel better the modern art … or maybe just because of being Romanian … Brancusi’s kiss is the most powerful.

When I’m thinking of the image of kiss … this idea is best represented in my mind by the symbol of “The Gate of Kiss” by Brancusi … what can be more „kiss” than two halves becoming one? … and what can be more  „one” than a circle ?  … so beautiful throw simplicity … the quintessential representation of love.

This gate of transition to another life is like a temple of love. Symbolising more than the union of the man and his woman, “The Gate of Kiss” represent the triumph of life over death through the love for each other, the central part of orthodox faith. Combining elements of traditional Romanian art with the simplicity of life and love of the Romanian peasants, the abstract Brancusi’s masterpiece is like a metaphor for the Romanian spirit.


Baba Lina – a part of heaven


Going to see Corbii de Piatra Monastery you find Baba Lina (old woman Lina) with her little blue house of loam brick. The little backyard begins at a huge block of rock, from which a little stream is forming a wonderfully waterfall. On the rock, the form of a giant man lain down appears … the legend speaks about a real fossilized giant that many, many years ago lived here.

In the yard, a little brook with his small loft, barrel for cabbage, fire woods … a full household. Around baba Lina’s yard, the village grows anarchic … new houses, modernizations of the old ones, all without rules, patterns … only here, in the yard of baba Lina, the time seems to rest …

Baba Lina has many children and grandchildren but she doesn’t want to go living with them, his place is here where she lived all her live, in her part of heaven, so pure and beautiful through the square of authenticity.

Saying all these might not  seem special, but when you got there you had the feeling of finding a part of everlasting Romania.

Corbii de Piatra Monastery

Corbii de Piatra Monastery (The Ravens of Rock Monastery) is one of the three churches in rock (along with Namaiesti and Cetatuia) from Arges, Romania.

It’s dated around 1512 in the time of Neagoe Basarab. With its originally painting and two shrines in byzantine style conserved, the artistic value of Corbii de Piatra Monastery is priceless … and of this is added something even more important, the spiritual value of an authentic Romanian orthodox place.

Mircea Dinescu – the poet, the revolutionary, the chef, the singer, …


I was nine years old in December 1989 and I remember quite well the longest show I’ve ever seen transmitted on tv, The Live Romanian Revolution … one of the main actors, Mircea Dinescu … someone said to Dinescu that if he had died at the Revolution, his statue would have been raised in the Bucharest’s centre … this is true, his voice was very important back then.

There was also a line, in the old Romanian style I might say, that become history: “Mircea, fa-te ca lucrezi!” (“Mircea, pretend you’re working!”) said by Ion Caramitru referring to the writing of the revolutionary proclamation.

Mircea Dinescu was a living legend and this was the way I saw him in the summer of 1990 when “Moartea citeste ziarul” (“Death is reading the newspaper”), the volume prohibited for publication in 1988, appeared in the library from my neighborhood. I used to visit it frequently attracted by books and when I saw Dinescu’s book, black with white writing, thin, with a really strange title … I don’t know what makes your brain to keep some memories and forget the others … very, very hot … all the street were empty … I ran back to my house to tell my mother about my extraordinary finding … I asked her to buy like ten of them … I returned desperate that somehow the book can disappear in 10 minutes, bought by the invisible people from the street … I bought five books and then returned home … again, no one on the street at three o’clock in that incredibly hot summer day.

At home, I don’t know if I admitted that to myself, but I remember I couldn’t really understand at almost ten years old how somebody could write such a little book and still be considered big, how a poet who wrote without traditional rhyme could receive prizes for his talent or why for something like “ei n-aveau limba de carpa” („they had no tongue of cloth”), „imaginatia nu costa nimic” („the imagination cost nothing”), „istoria … parca a uitat sa se mai nasca” („it look like history forgot to be born”) you were prohibited to publish.

As gravity, it was definitely less harsh than I expected, but this was the tragedy, you couldn’t in fact say anything else than the Party said - everything that was already written. Nowadays, we do have some kind of freedom, but in my old neighborhood there is no library now and the son of a metal worker cannot buy twenty-five books at once as Mircea Dinescu could in the days of communism.

I can say that after the Revolution Mircea Dinescu has a succesful live, although many consistently criticised him for not being … like they expected. He started three journals of political satire: „Academia Catavencu” („Catavencu Academy”), „Plai cu boi” („Land of the Dumb”), „Aspirina saracului” („The Poor’s Man Aspirin”) and with Cristian Tudor Popescu the newspaper „Gandul” („The Thought”). He has a political talk show,  with Stelian Tanase („Dinescu si Tanase”). And he also started … yes, agriculture … in The Dinescu’s Cultural Harbor Cetate … there you can find a yearly Musical Camp, a Poetry Camp, a Film Festival, a Gastronomic Art Festival, … he now has his own brand of wine from Cetate, „Vinul mosierului” („Landowner’s wine”), named after a remark of him made by the former president Ion Iliescu.

About poetry … he recently published a book of love poetry, „Femei din secolul trecut” („The women from the past century”) that can be bought together with a disk, the same poems sang, of corse, by himself.

I guess that a foreigner can’t understand Mircea Dinescu, he is very … Romanian, he is just like the Romanians. I hope this to be true, I hope that there are still Romanians who can fight for their ideas.

I have to return now to the beginning of the story. After an interview in the French newspaper Liberation in which he criticised the political regime, Mircea Dinescu was under house arrest in 1989. Following the visit of Gorbaciov in Bucharest, the communist policy was afraid that with this occasion Dinescu might be interviewed by foreign journalists. That is why he was proposed initially to move from Bucharest in Tecuci as librarian and then he was offered passports for him, his wife and children for France. And he refused because he didn’t want to compromise his ideas. He reminded and reported everything after not only that he wasn’t allowed to speak at an election rally of president Traian Basescu (which in fact he supported in the first term) but he was also invited to move his harbor from Cetate to Bulgaria, on the other shore of Danube.

What president does Dinescu want for Romania? Go in the dark at the Athenaeum and choose someone from there, so maybe you could find a man with „common sense, courtesy, kindness, his presence to give you a peaceful mind”. So I guess Mircea Dinescu won’t stop criticising the political system too soon.


Ion Barladeanu – what is destiny? and what is brilliant?


The documentary trailer “The world according of Ion B.”  … written, directed and photographed by the Romanian Alexander Nanau … Winner International Emmy Award for Arts Programming 2010 … GOPO – Best Documentary 2010, Romanian National Film Award … Best Balkan Documentary, Dokufest 2010, Prizren, Kosovo … and this is how, at almost 70 years, the life of Ion Barladeanu actually begins …

Ion Barladeanu is now considered one of the best represents of Collage Art, the current invented by two titans, George Braque and Pablo Picasso. Regarding the lack of education in his past, Ion Barladeanu can be seen also as a late re-discoverer of Collage and Pop Art.

His life wasn’t easy … he had many jobs grave-digger, cutter log, guard, construction laborer … and much more drinking problems. He had made three years in jail in Ceausescu period, apparently for work on the black as grave-digger, something that deeply affected and then influenced his artistic work.

When he was discovered by Alexander Nanau, he was homeless living in a garbage chute on Calea Mosilor,Bucharest. The gallery owner, Dan Popescu, recognized the value of the collages carefully kept in three suitcases. Then the success of the movie … Ion Barladeanu started to have exhibitions … Anne de Villepoix Gallery, Paris … a picture with Angelina Jolie … everything seems to change for Ion Barladeanu.

You might say it’s simple to cut and paste magazines papers. Try it! You might say that something like Collage Art is not impressive, is not “real art”. Watch the “papers” of Ion Barladeanu, are really impressive, an artistic manifest. Ion Barladeanu was born brilliant, his art somehow kept his spirit alive during the years of suffering and then public recognition as a great artist.

Now, Ion Barladeanu is not rich as you might think after a picture with Angelina … doesn’t seem fulfilled, as any soul artist maybe … he lives in a little warm room given by Dan Popescu … resumed working of collages … and I hope we’ll find soon some more about him and his art.


Lumea vazuta de Ion B

Alina Cojocaru – London Royal Ballet’s principal dancer


Seing Alina Cojocaru dancing is like in a dream, a supernatural dance of a graceful, strong, feminine, light, precise, brilliant ballerina.

Giselle, her first leading role, is the name that will forever be linked to the name of Alina Cojocaru, the best dancer ever for this part. In Giselle, the tempo is going from the dance full of vivacity at the peasants celebration to the dance of seduction and eternal love and, in the end, the deadly dance of the soul in the world of Fairies, where you can lose your mind of pain.

Alina Cojocaru and her partner Johan Kobborg (her partner in real life also) dance in Giselle all the forms of love, from day to night, from coolness to fussiness, from live to death. The beauty of Giselle with Alina Cojocaru and  Johan Kobborg from London Royal Ballet’s was recognized being ranked in 2010 in top ten ballets of the decade.

The story of Alina Cojocaru starts simple … she was born in Bucharest. Her parents, both worked in the family shop in a bazaar in Bucharest thought she was to short, so she began gymnastic class. Than, at the age of 9 years, she started ballet school, a few month after the beginning, she was chosen by the director of the Kiev Ballet School for a student exchange.

How to succeed? Alina Cojocaru is no doubt born with the genius of dance, after that maybe the fortunate to be at the audition for the student exchange with the Kiev Ballet School, but after that work, work, … and many sacrifices. She stayed 7 years in Kiev, coming home only in holidays two times per year, alone not knowing to speak Russian and working hard to shine as ballerina. She is saying that the most difficult was missing her family, something that will never change because she had never returned to live in Romania.

At the age at 16, Alina Cojocaru won the gold medal in the Prix de Lausanne, winning so a six month scholarship at the Royal Ballet School London. After this, she was offered to join the corps of ballet in London and also to join the Kiev Ballet as Principal, she chosen for one season the second option in order to gain experience. Than, at the age at 17 years, she joined the Royal Ballet as member of the corps of ballet and at the age at 19 years, in 2001, she was promoted to the rank of Principal dancer, the youngest in the Royal Ballet history.

In 2004 she received the Prix Benois de la Dance, and in 2010 was one of the four winners of the Prix Ballerina of the Decade at The Stars of the 21st Century Moscova Gala.

Alina Cojocaru is definitely one of the most acclaimed ballerinas worldwide, she performed with London Royal Ballet, American Ballet Theatre, The Australian Ballet, Hamburg Ballet, ABT Met, Kremlin Ballet, Royal Danish Ballet, Tokyo Ballet and her way is not ended yet.


Histria – my childhood favorite place


You find Histria, the great lost city, on road between Constanta and Tulcea.

In spring, when the water is raised, the last 3 kilometres are “through” water, the road that is on a dike is really surrounded by water, birds, frogs, water lilies … in the droughty summers, a landscape like in prairie or even desert, all the vegetation burden, only the rests of snakes that throw their skins remain.

I remember I read some time ago that Histria is the first and also the largest archaeological site in Romania, I didn’t find this information now so maybe is just on my head … but Histria was, and this is certain, the first city attested on the present Romania territory. Also, the earliest documented currency was there, a silver drachma with Histria’s symbols an eagle on a dolphin.

Founded by the Milesian Greeks colonists around 657 BC, dates about Histria can be found in Scymnus of Chiros, Eusebius of Caesarea, Strabo. After Greeks came the Romans, than Burebista, than again the Romans. The end of Histria was tragical, the decline was brought by a natural  phenomenon, the clogging of the Black’s Sea bay by the Danube’s silt deposits that formed a shoal, nowadays the Sinoe Lake, so the maritime trade has become impossible. Than the total destruction of the city was probably due to of the Avars and the Slavs invasion.

In Histria you can see the various relics: Temples for Aphrodite, Apollo or Zeus from Greek period, thermals, mosaic, more than 20 kilometres of pipelines, streets paved from Roman period and even an episcopal basilica from the Christian Period.

Near the archaeological site is the Histria’s Museum where are exposed relics found in the archaeological site.

In Histria lives two species of snakes that are on the list of endangered species. Going at Histria in a rainy or cold day, you can see snakes looking for shelter in the Museum, they may look dangerous with their yellow patches, but they are totally harmless and nice. The area Istria – Sinoe, including the archaeological site Histria, is part of Danube Delta Reservation because of the variety of animals and birds. Since 2007, the site of Histria is also part of the European Patrimony.

Ioan Nemtoi – perfection in glass


As Romanian, it’s almost impossible not to know Ioan Nemtoi … articles in many magazines, tv shows, two galleries in Bucharest’s centre … as lover of art, it’s really impossible, his art is famous everywhere … what can I say more ? …

Working as a resident in the “Carol Davila” Hospital I had the privilege of passing by Nemtoi’s Gallery on Calea Victoriei (Bucharest) every day, many times reviewing the gallery. One day, I found Ioan Nemtoi there, very kind to explain his work … I used to think I knew a lot about Ioan Nemtoi, however, after talking with him, I realized it’s so much more to know.

How is Ioan Nemtoi? I see him as a kind of Ion Creanga, Moldavian from Dorohoi, Romanian to the bone, “neaos”, funny, … and, of course, not the least, brilliant. His art, perfection in glass I say, is love at first sight for anyone.

In the early 90′, he started the international exhibitions in private galleries in Norway, Sweden, France … he left Dorohoi, the place where his workshop still stands, he loaded his pieces of glass in an Aro (not in a very good shaped car) and left hoping to a get to the end of a very long road … longer than he initially thought, because now his exhibitions are everywhere … McLaren Technology Center Surrey… Oxo Tower Wharf London … World Trade Center, Rotterdam & Amsterdam …  Jacob Bach, Düsseldorf … Artech, SoHo, New York … Nemtoi Glass Art Gallery, Elvej, Danmark …

In Vienna, in an old home for medical students, later transformed in hotel, you can find Ioan Nemtoi’s work in every room … the restaurant, bar and the garden area are all Nemtoi’s design, not only Nemtoi’s glass … so visit Nemtoi Restaurant and Bar at The Levante Parliament Hotel in Vienna. Do you need more? His creations are permanently exposed  at UNICEF, New York, USA (“Bread and Fishes”) and White House, Washington DC, USA (”Genesis”), also in private collections: King Harald Norway, Vladimir Putin, Kofi Annan, Emma Nicholson…

Speaking about his greatest dream … an International Academy of Glass in Dorohoi … because Ioan Nemtoi, even though he had many opportunities to leave Romania, thinks that living here is better and tries to convince any Romanian to do the same, to live in Romania . Writing about Ioan Nemtoi was a really great joy.