ART ENCOUNTERS | Appearance & Essence | 3-31 OCTOBER 2015 TIMISOARA | ARAD
Romul Nuțiu' July 28, 1932 – April 5, 2012 was one of the most constant artists dedicated to Abstraction from the Romanian art scene. Romul Nutiu, who stands for the position of Abstract Expressionism in post –War Romania has spent most of his adult life in Timisoara. This is the city where the Romanian avant-garde develops in the early 60s. Far from Bucharest, in a less oppressive political environment, Abstraction gets on its way. On the one hand, with the neo-Constructivist group Sigma, on the other with the Abstract Expressionism of Romul Nutiu. While the Sigma group existed just for a few years and then dissolved, most of its members finding back to Realism, Nutiu stays constantly on his Abstract Expressionistic path, until the end of his life.
Nutiu chose to live in Timisoara and to follow with strong determination his personal resistance against Socialist Realism. His abstract works were born autonomously according to a genuine need for abstraction and expression of power and energy through the act of painting. The Romanian art historian Coriolan Babeti, who wrote about Nutiu’s solo exhibitions in the 70th called him „Pollock of the West Coast of Romanian Painting“.
Colour, movement, light, emotion doubled by his specific „elan vital“ always drove him forward. Nutiu continued to challenge himself as an artist, he wanted to develop, to expand -“ My belief was strictly connected to the idea that the perception of things is rather important for the creation act, but being limited, one has to appeal to the subconscious through experiment, challenge and transcendence. My informal was born from hard work and devotion.”
Assonances and contrasts in this exhibition, may open us to new interpretations and a better understanding of each of the three artists in relation to the Romanian post-War Abstractionism and their position in the international context.
Dr. Joana Grevers - Romanian-German curator and art historian, director of 418 Contemporary Art Gallery Bucharest
Image Copyright: 418 Contemporary Art Gallery București
Joana Grevers: Mr. Nuţiu, I would like to know if you think you are somehow more connected to the American abstract expressionism or to the European informal one or to none of them?
Romul Nuţiu: To this question I’d answer with some explanations: many years ago, in 1957, when I graduated, my belief was strictly connected to the idea that the perception of things is rather important for the creation act, but being limited, one has to appeal to the subconscious through experiment, challenge and transcendence. My informal was born from hard work and devotion. At that moment, I knew few things about contemporary art, and what I learned in school was just some academic knowledge that was only partially useful. Later on, when I started to travel, I came in contact with the European informal. In the big museums I found out that my way was somehow synchronized, having a polarity to what I was seeing. Abstract expressionism and the European informal made me understand that I have to keep my own authenticity and sensitivity.
J.G.: But this year, an important exhibit at the Bayeler Foundation tried to create a dialogue between the two competitive movements, although the biggest impact obviously comes from the United States.
R.N.: Personally I rather believe in reciprocal appreciation then in absolute reconciliation…
J.G.: Which is your philosophy of life, of creation?
R.N.: One must know that it is not difficult to paint, but it is difficult to put yourself in the state of doing it, and challenging your personal ego can help. Creativity depends on many things. It is important not to philosophize too much and lose sight of the art and the practical aspect of the process of creation… Information, knowledge, culture are integral components for the artist; as it is concentration, genuine individuality…
J.G.: It is therefore appropriate to associate you with “Elan Vital” and Henri Bergson; but hidden spirituality is also a characteristic of your oeuvre. Would you allow me to call you “a sensitive rebel”?
R.N.: The questions are well put, you have the freedom to call me as you please, I don’t wish to “direct the press”. The association with Bergson is an honor.
J.G.: Have you ever been a member of a movement or artistic group?
R.N.: I could not say I’ve ever been a member of a group with a doctrine or a specific program . Between 1965 and 1970, I organized together with my colleagues in the guild - Jecza, Kazinsczy, Popa - the exhibition “Painting - Object - Sculpture - Environment” which elaborated a special interaction between the works on display. It was at that point in time that I conceived the painted objects in my gestural mode of expression as an amplification of the act of painting. I always wished to be someone who stays true to his moods and feelings, with a visual articulation of my own.
J.G.: Maybe the real creativity is born from singularity - said Jackson Pollock -, “ to paint is a state of the soul… painting is self-awareness. The good artists paints his inner self.” What was the key moment in your evolving process, when did you find your own precise style?
R.N.: There were many key moments which manifested themselves on the occasion of some personal exhibitions. I could mention “Dynamic Universe” at Helios Gallery in Timișoara. Here, I proposed a flux between the principles of pure painting, of the established informal, on the one hand and the investigation of reality on the other. The relation with the cultural models of the European informal or of the abstract expressionism is the premise for validating my own solutions. Of special importance is my monumental artwork at the West University, which was realized after researching into the informal. When I came to the conclusion that my studies in this domain were completed, I opened a new exhibition “Sections through Fertile Ground”, in which I intended to reaffirm the need to create based on the experience of reality, of the unforeseeable, ephemeral, sensorial… More recently, my exhibition in 2004, “Utopia”, is a polemical debate concerning the image of the artist and of art in general. I believe that art must continually change its system of reference and answer to current issues.
J.G.: When you start a painting, do you think of its impact on the beholder?
R.N.:When I start a painting, my concern is to transmit something through the specific means of visual art: color, shape, space, rhythm, composition. Sometimes I find myself looking at a painting from a viewer’s perspective. I think that once a painting is finished, it has to embark on its own history: to be displayed in museums, at different exhibitions, sold, appreciated, given as a gift and - why not - stored in a storehouse, or behind a closet.
J.G.: Mr. Nuţiu, you once said: “If you are aware of your own limits, you may someday be able to go beyond them”.
R.N.: Yes, it is very important to know something about yourself. The artist has to be an intellectual: to learns, to inform himself, to meditate and to engage in permanent introspection…
Interview conducted by the curator Dr. Joana Grevers in 2008