“What defines our civilization? Speed!
People conquer time and space, constantly accelerating the means of traversing them. Speed is nothing more than the measure of the time you need to be able to travel a distance …
And sometimes it is the distance that separates us from death.
The work of art must express exactly what does not submit to the death, but it must do so in such a way that it remains a testimony to the age in which the artist lives. ” ~ C. Brâncuşi
On 19 february 2021, Romania celebrated 145 years since the birth of a great romanian sculptor – Constantin Brâncuși. And that day I remembered a little story I wrote some years ago, inspired by a friend and his art. But, first let’s discover the one that was named a pioneer of modernism.
Brâncuși is called the patriarch of modern sculpture, being considered one of the most influential sculptors of the 20th-century and a pioneer of modernism. He perfected himself as an artist in Paris, in the studio of Antonin Mercié for two years and for only two months in the worskhop of Auguste Rodin, from which he left saying:
“Nothing can grow under big trees.”
Soon after, Brâncuși began developing the revolutionary style for which he is known and his works had become famous in France, Romania and the United States.
Brâncuşi mirrored, starting from his peasant origin, the traditions, myths and magic of Romanian folk art, intertwined with the vision of life that was influenced by both Plato and the conception of Eastern philosophers.
“He who does not come out of self does not touch the absolute and does not decipher life.” ~ C. Brâncuşi
He is considered an innovator, because he freed sculpture from the mechanical imitation of nature, he intertwined like no other the spirit and sensitivity, expressing the very essence of things, the dynamism of forms, combining in his works the simplicity of Romanian folk art with the refinement of the Parisian avant-garde.
And to this day forward, his works of art are an inspiration for the young sculptors.
For me, personally, his words are the ones that transcends time so that’s why I included few quotes from him here and there. I love he saw life in such a simple yet in a profound way.
But hey, this is actually the point where we change the direction of this article.
And even if the two parts seems different, I believe there’s an invisible bridge between these two artists.
The story that follows is not about C. Brâncuși, is about a friend of mine, Alexandru Căzănaru, in which studio I had the oportunity to enter some years ago.
There, the time stood in place, and his art touched me in a deeply-strangely-beautiful way.
Like a kiss on the soul.
The door opened and the first thing I see, after the humble presence of my friend, is this painting sitting on the big white wall on the right.
There lays the image of his great-grandmother, with her tear-stained blue eyes, a portrait that left me with a strange feeling of great sadness mixed with pain.
It was painted the very day she would leave his nephew for her way back to the stars. Perhaps he managed somehow to capture in those blue eyes a bit of her soul and that will always haunt the one that sees the painting.
For you, the one who reads these lines, you have just begun the journey in the soul of an artist. Welcome.
The workshop bathes in a soft light, with a view and access to the garden waiting for the new spring to wake her from numbness.
Dozens of tidy details such as wheels of different sizes, modeling tools, brushes and the workbench where three molds folded in plastic foil rest, warns me that I have entered a creative space.
A space that imposes a sudden need to keep myself quiet.
Gradually, the works also make their presence felt.
Small or large, each has its own story and invites me to research them closely. As I catch them with curious eyes, I feel overwhelmed by sensations and emotions that I do not want to explain.
Silence is gaining ground.
In this silence, the noble piano sounds combined with Alexandru’s voice transpose me into a Universe unknown, where the sculptures tell their story.
The Squatting teacher hides from The Quarrel, which is clenching her fists and is shouting at him from a reason known only by them two.
The Prayer rises to the ceiling, hoping to be heard by The Guide who can save her. The Messenger of Time, Danaida, the Philosopher of the Mountains and The Earthling patiently watch this scene until Time freezes them…and suddenly I wake up from dreaming. Was it a dream?
“Simplicity is not an objective in art, but one achieves simplicity despite one’s self by entering into the real sense of things.” ~
“To appreciate art, you must have an education in beauty …” he tells me towards the end of our meeting, with a gentle look and a modest smile.
I left the workshop wrapped in a storm of emotions, but with a special respect for a man and friend who carries art in his soul. And his soul is carried in all his sculptures.
There are people who choose to express their moods, vision of life or love of people in a constructive and creative way; through painting, sculpture, drawing, music, dance, writing or photography, they become artists.
Sometimes ridiculized, sometimes ignored and too rarely appreciated at their true value.
But the striving to become an artist in today’s society, which puts you so quickly under worthless labels, shows fantastic courage.
Congratulations, Alex! I bow before you for the thousands of hours you have chosen to discharge your energy, whether negative or positive, into true works of art.
Even when you had your right hand in gyps, you still managed to create a beautiful face.
“I have the impression that people’s lives are going on the wrong basis. There is a serious misunderstanding at the starting point. People do not recognize the wonder that life itself is, this earthly globe that spins in chaos and carries them in its course through all the ages.
What people in our time lack is the cosmic dimension, this feeling of the adventure of the spirit, beyond the apparent reality. Today’s people do not have the antenna to penetrate the true reality, the only reality that matters. They are deceived by appearances and stop at them. I’m not going further. Because it prevents him from this stupid need for security that cuts off the wings of adventure and protects the spirit in the prison of conformity.
Always, what sustained me was joy.
In the most difficult circumstances of life, I knew how to find it on my way.
I was singing.
I knew what had to happen was going to happen.
And nothing stopped me.
All my work is built on this feeling of the wonder that life represents, of joy. ”
Constantin Brâncuși – October 1938, Conversations with Ionel Jianu. Text published in the Revista Fundaţiei Regale, no. 9, September 1946.
- The informations about Brâncuși are gathered from Wikipedia.org & Istoria Zilei (https://www.instagram.com/istoriazilei/)