“Nothing grows under the shadow of big trees.”
“When we are no longer children we are already dead”
“Simplicity is not an objective in art, but one achieves simplicity despite one’s self by entering into the real sense of things.”
“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
The College of Arts “Nicolae Tonitza” Bucharest, Romania
The University of Fine Arts Bucharest, Romania
2001 scholarship – The Academy of Fine Arts of Brera, Milan, Italy
2002 scholarship – The University of Perugia, Italy
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.
photo: logoi.com, srt-zone.ro
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.
photo: renne.ro, tusitala.tumblr.com, all-art.ro, flickr.com, pbase.com