“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