Category Archives: 1. Little Story

Liviu Livrescu – about courage and honor

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Liviu Livrescu, was born in Ploiesti, Romania in 1930. Of Jewish origins, Liviu Livrescu was a Holocaust survivor, after deporting in a labor camp in Transnistria and then in a ghetto in Focsani. After that he was repatriated in Romania, where he studied aerospace engineering at the Polytechnic University of Bucharest, graduating in 1952 and continuing with a Master’s degree at the same university being awarded a PhD in fluid mechanics in 1969 by the Romanian Academy of Science.

In 1970, after the refuse to swear allegiance to the Communist Party he was forced out of academia. He asked the permission to emigrate in Israel and obtained that only in 1978 after the Israeli Prime Minister personally intervened by directly asking the Romanian communist President Nicolae Ceauşescu.

From 1979 to 1985, Livrescu was Professor of Aeronautical and Mechanical Engineering at Tel Aviv University. In 1985, he moved in USA as Professor at Virginia Tech in its Department of Engineering Science and Mechanics.

On April 16, 2007, Liviu Livrescu was among the 33 people murdered in the Virginia Tech massacre after a young of 24 years opened fire on classrooms. Most of his students manage to escape through windows saved by the professor who remain in the door as human fence, being struck by five bullets.

His students called him a hero … “I don’t think I would be here if it wasn’t for” his sacrifice, Caroline Merrey, one of the students.

In Romania, the country where he was born, his picture and a candle was placed on a table at the Polytechnic University of Bucharest where people laid flowers in his memory.  The President of Romania commemorated Liviu Livrescu posthumously with Order of the Star of Romania with the rank of Grand Cross “as a sign of high appreciation and gratitude for the entire scientific and academic activity, as well as for the heroism shown in the course of the tragic events which took place on April 16th, 2007”. The street in front of the U.S. Embassy in Bucharest was named in his honor for never forgetting what sacrifice means.

photo: esm.vt.edu

Andrei Cadere – founder of the conceptual art

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Andrei Cadere is one of the  conceptual art’s founders and also one of the most important protagonists of the radical conceptual art. He is also one of the artists whose reputation, quotation and influence have  dramatically increased in the last two decades.

Andrei Cadere was born in 1934 Warsaw, Poland and died in 1978 in Paris. And France is actually the place where he become famous. That is why not many people  know that Andrei Cadere has actually Romanian origins, his father being a Romanian diplomat in Poland.

He started his artistic activity in Romania, as self-taught painter and he was also sometimes picture as model for Corneliu Baba. He was also experimenting in underground shows all sorts of techniques, from surrealism to optical art. We can easily imagine that Romania in that period, a communist era, was not a  favorable  place to art in general, the less to conceptual art. In 1967, at 33 years, Andrei Cadere left Romania, continuing his work in France.

Then, in 1970 he gave up painting on canvas, instead he began the painting on bois. He concentrates his work only on one aspect, Barres de bois rond (Round Wooden Bars) that became a brand just like any other commercial brand. These wooden bars were “sold” along with a tag line that mimics the cash receipts from the store. In the conservatory artistic environment of years 70’ his artistic step was really courageous.

His Round Wooden Bar is a long pole made of colored wooden cylindrical units and each stick contained one anomaly into the system of arranging the units. His idea “peinture sans fin” (“infinite painting”) reminds us of course of the “infinite column” of Constantin Brancusi. His bar with repeated elements was so a metonymy for the idea of expanding infinitely the limits of art. The wood was manually carved and dented, so no one of the units is perfectly cylindrical. Andrei Cadere’s message was to value the things hand-made in his trying to oppose to the uniformity dictated by the industrial data.

Being a marginalized artist in his native country, Andrei Cadere was an outsider in France also. He created a performance that claimed radical changes in the order of the Parisian artistic movements.

He brought the idea of art everywhere, not only in galleries, he took his wooden stick with him all over:  the street, the bar, any room or space became a place of exhibition; actually, he exhibited his art everywhere.

Andrei Cadere brought his rounded wooden bar at his artists friends exhibitions, becoming so one of the exhibitors. He introduced his wooden bar also into the openings where he wasn’t invited, somehow he managed always to infiltrates his bar becoming a “danger” for art museums and galleries. Sometimes he added a cheeky announcement to galleries that he and his bar will be attending the opening. His benign crime was the “scream” against uniformity, lows, rules … his form of fight for freedom.

“My art is the situation of my work in the world. It is critical of power. That is what I call the political in my work.” Andrei Cadere

photo : frieze.com, 9am.ro, produsin.ro, criticatac.ro

Paul Neagu – “sculptor, painter, poet, and larger-than-life character”

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“Sculptor, painter, poet, and larger-than-life character”, this was the introduction for the photo exhibition of Laurentiu Garofeanu “Paul Neagu, A portrait” at Romanian Cultural Centre London in 2009.

Paul Neagu, an innovator in art, is maybe the most important Romanian artist since Constantin Brancusi. He was born in Bucharest in 1938, he spent his childhood in Timisoara and studied painting at the Institute of Art ‘N Grigorescu’, Bucharest. In 1969, during the communism, he emigrated in France and then, at the invitation of Richarf Demarco, came to London.

In England he started his career by lecturing at Chelsea School of Art and Hornsey College of Art, becoming known for his artistic work. After gaining British citizenship in 1977, he has been widely recognized for his input in British sculpture.

Actually, I saw for the first time artworks by Paul Neagu in the exposition “From Henry Moore to Hirst: 60 years of British sculpture”, exposition hosted also by The National Art Museum, Bucharest in 2005. Paul Neagu was presented there as one of the representatives of British sculpture.

The work of Paul Neagu impresses by the variety of materials used in sculpture and the capacity of surprising the movement in static composition, practically the decomposition of the move in static compositions.

The artistic work of Paul Neagu was recognized also in awards: „Tony Cobbeld” (1976), the award of the Arts Board Great Britain(1973, 1978), Blue Ribbon Medal (Kongo Hosyo) from the Japanese Government in 1996 and a Leverhulme Trust research award in 1997. He received scholarships at Arts Council Great Britain (1975) and at The Pollock-Krasner Foundation USA (1990, 1991 and 2004). He taught also at Royal College of Art London (1976 – 1986) and at „Concordia” University Montreal (1982 – 1983).

Many of his artworks were bought by the Tate Gallery, London where can be seen as public collection. Among others his works can be found also at The British Museum, Albert Museum London; Tochigi Museum, Japain; Le Fond départemental d’art contemporain, Seine Saint-Denis, Bobigny, The Hugh Lane Municipal Gallery of Modern Art, Dublin, Le Musee Cantonal de Beaux Arts, Lausanne, The Philadelphia Art Museum, Philadelphia, USA.

After the Romanian Revolution in 1989, he periodically returned in Romania and in 1992 he re-obtained the Romanian citizenship. In 1996 he donated 140 pieces to the Romanian Patrimony, that can be seen in The Romanian National Art Museum Bucharest, Romanian Museum of Contemporany Art Bucharest and The Museum of Banat Timisoara.

Two monuments, art-works by Paul Neagu are placed inRomania, “Crucea secolului”(“The Croix of the century”) in Bucuresti and “Crucificare”(“Crucifixion”) in Timisoara.

Serriously ill, he died at 66 years, in 2004 in London. As Constantin Brancusi in his will, he wanted to be burried in Romania, his grave being now at Timisoara.

photo: romanianculturalcentre.org.uk, sculpture.org.uk, ampt.ro, flickr.com, fotografiievenimente.ro

„Calusarii” – a custom kept more than 2000 years

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From the ethnogenesis point of view, we, the Romanians, are “Daco-Roman” descents. Romanian continuity on the actual Romania’s territory starting with the Latinisation of the autochthonous population (Dacians) by the Romans.

Dacia Traiana was included among the imperial provinces in 106 AD, after the victory of Trajan emperor. After that, Trajan’s Column in Rome was raised to celebrate the success of Romans.

What we can easily notice in the bas-reliefs of Trajan’s Column is that the port of the native population, Dacians, is almost the same with that of the Romanian peasants, in great discrepancy with the Roman’s port, obvious changed.

The Dacians were in the pre-Christian period the only population in Europe that had only one God, Gebeleizis (a monotheism exception in the polytheist civilised world of Greeks and Latins). Also, another interesting aspect is that the Dacians  were laughing at the funeral in order to celebrate the beginning of a better, superior live after death.

All the elements of continuity, preserving the traditions, make from Romania a place of profound authenticity.

One of the customes remained from the Dacians, practically unchanged in the last 2000 years is „Calusarii” ( „The hazel’s nuts”).

The dance „Calusarii” is related to the feast of Sun, a magic dance that have as motif the nut of hazel, called „calus” in some regions of Romania. The rite of this dance gives special forces to its participants, that have after that the power to bring good to people, animals, harvests. In a phase of the dance, one of the participants enter in the center and fall after he is touched with a hazel branch, taking upon him all the evil.

A dance with similar movements is find only in Egypt, a place where for a short period was developed a monotheistic pre-christian religion having in center the sun.

Everyone that is seeing „Calusarii” is immediately attracted by the power of its rhythm, the force of movements, the beauty of the colourful customes and the magic of the symbols.

photo: blogspot.com, lenusa.ning.com, adevarul.ro

Raed Arafat – making the impossible

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Many of the medical students of all the Medical Universities in Romania have made a summer training course for First Aid at Targu Mures, the place where Raed Arafat began building a system of Emergency Medicine, SMURD (The Mobil System of Emergency, Resuscitation and Extrication).

We didn’t work directly with him, but we saw him acting during the emergency interventions. We were all looking at  him with great admiration, even then when SMURD was a local system; Raed Arafat had  already become  a legend.

We were making the courses with two members of his team, very well prepared and very serious about their job. Everyone in his team was like this because a great man can make a great team. There I learned something simple, but essential in medicine, especially in Emergency medicine, always following  the protocol.

And I think this is how Raed Arafat succeeded, because now SMURD is a national system, he has always followed the “protocol”, the steps are clear, without making any exception from quality of work.

Of course Raed Arafat is not Romanian by birth, but he proved to be “very” Romanian when doing something for the benefit of all Romanians.

A New York Times article, written in troubled times for Romania, was published in February 10, 2012 as an eulogy of Raed Arafat:

http://www.nytimes.com/2012/02/11/world/europe/palestinian-helps-romania-remake-its-emergency-care system.html?_r=1&pagewanted=all%3Fsrc%3Dtp&smid=fb-share

““At its best, the system is better than what we have, and at its worst it’s certainly still better than what exists in lots of  States,” said Peter Gordon, an emergency physician at Bassett Medical Center in Cooperstown, N.Y., who worked over the course of nearly a decade with Dr. Arafat  and  helped him  building the system.

“His attitude is, ‘We can do it better than anywhere in the world,’ ” Dr. Gordon said. “It’s, ‘Let’s not be as good as the Germans, as good as the French, let’s be even better.’ ””

The New York Times:  February 10, 2012

photo: bzi.ro

Radu Mihaileanu – the director of destinies

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A few years ago, I started to see “Train de vie” (“The train of life”) without knowing anything about its directing or acting. From the beginning, first five minutes, I have the feeling of something “Romanian”, then Romanian actors enter  the scene, so the feeling is confirmed.

“Train de vie”, directed by Radu Mihaileanu, is actually a production by France, Belgium, Netherlands, Israel and Romania.

A tragicomedy film having in centre the story Schlomo … a story during The Second World War … an entirely European Jewish village trying to escape the Holocaust … for that, some of them pretend to be Nazis … and from here the comedy in a tragic situation. One of the masterpiece moments of the movie … the meeting between the Jewish and Gypsies found in the same condition … a dance ensemble showing the richness of two different cultures joined through music.

And so, starting from this film, I wanted to find more about the Romanian name, Radu Mihaileanu. He is actually a French film director and screen player of Jewish origin, born in 1958 in Bucharest, Romania. In 1980, in the communist period, he left Romania going to Israel and from there in France for study at  the IDHEC cinematographic institute in Paris.

“Va, vie et deviens” (“Live and become”) was the next movie of Radu Mihaileanu I saw, a movie distinguished with the Most Popular International Film at Vancouver Festival in 2005 and with a Cesar Prize for screen in 2006. A profound film that tells the story of a Christian Ethiopian boy saved and raised by a Jewish woman, a character permanently confronted with the secrets of his origins and the pain of leaving his birth mother.

The biggest public success was achieved by Radu Mihaileanu in 2009 with “Le concert” (“The concert”). The show is placed in the prestigious Theatre du Chatelet in Paris, sustained by an orchestra composed by Jewish and Gypsy musicians conducted by a former world-famous conductor of the Bolshoi Theatre, in the back of all this the tragic story of the origins of Anne-Marie, a great violin interpret.

I won’t say much about his last comedy, “La source des Femmes” (“The Source”), you must see it!

So, go see the movies of Radu Mihaileanu, a director with Jewish origin, eastern experience, western education and maybe for that, with an amazing variety of situations in his brilliant compositions: „Trahir” (1993), “Bonjour Antoine” (1997), “Train de vie” (1998), “Les pygmees de Carlo” (2002), “Va,vie et deviens” (2005), “Le Concert” (2009), “La Source des Femmes” (2011).

photo: paginadefilm.com, blogspot.com, avaxhome.ws, decitre.fr, apprentice.ro

Dan Grigore – the extraordinary pianist

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Dan Grigore is considered one of the greatest pianist of the second half of the twenties century. His passion for music started early, he started piano lessons at three years old under the influence of his mother, also gifted for music. As a child, being ill for two weeks he asked his parents to take him with his blanket to his piano; from the beginning he was attracted irresistible by music.

Dan Grigore was born in Bucharest in 1943. At only 8 years old, he continued his piano lessons with great teachers from the Bucharest Conservatory, Eugenia Ionescu, Constantin Jora and then Florica Musicescu. He followed the courses of the Bucharest Conservatory but also in Sankt Petersburg at Rimski-Korsakov Conservatory with Tatiana Kravcenko. In 1969 he received a scholarship for Vienna, where he studied with Richard Hauser.

In the Romanian Communist period, as many other artistic Romanian personalities, he was marginalized. He received other scholarships, like the scholarship offered by Nadia Boulanger at the Fontainebleau Conservatory (1968), at the Madison-Wisconsin USA (1969-1971), by Sergiu Celibidache in Munchen (1979) or the invitation of the American Government for o trip in USA(1987). All are refused by the Romanian communist administration. We can not wonder, what could have been the artistic career of Dan Grigore in other times? Travelling through the grand scenes is after all essential for any music artist.

After the falling of the communist regime, Dan Grigore was invited to play in Tokio, Kyoto, Osaka, Anvers, Berlin, München, Budapesta, Birmingham, Cardiff, Paris, Roma, Jerusalem, Tel Aviv, Madrid, Barcelona, Copenhagen … and so, as a tribute, the public worldwide appreciated  him.

In 1996, he sustained three concerts with the Munches Philharmonic Orchestra under the direction of Sergiu Celibidache, the last concerts of the Romanian extravagant conductor.

Two of the important services that Dan Grigore made to Romania were bringing home on the Romanian stages the great artists left during the communism (Ileana Cotrubaș, Marina Krilovici, Silvia Marcovici, Radu Lupu, Radu Aldulescu, Sergiu Celibidache) and the project  “Dati un leu pentru Ateneu” (“Give a coin for the Athenaeum”) for the restoration of the Romanian Athenaeum.

In October 2013, Dan Grigore will perform with the great Romanian soprano Angela Gheorghiu at Teatro alla Scala in Milan. Two Romanians on one of the greatest stages in the world, what an honor!

photo: evz.ro