The declared aim of the Wood Engraving Symposium which took
place this autumn in Singeorz- Bai was that of coinpleting the
collection of the town's future Compared Art Museum, this symposium being the last of a series which began a few years aga.
The project of this museum is one that aims at directly comparing
the traditional art specific to this region and the contemporary art.
More than a comparativa approach in the historical- analytical sanse, another way of reading art is suggested, a way of evaluating and understanding the relationships between tradition and modernity.
The choice of the wood engraving for the most recent symposium completes the basis of this project by employing a traditional technique too little used in the contemporary world. Wood engraving is the technique by which the countrymen of the Hajdate village made, during the XVIII th.- XIX th. centuries, paper printed icons which will constitute the main scurGe of inspiration for the icon makers from Nicula. These engravings, cheaper than the icons on glass, gave to each and everyone who carne for pilgrimage at Nicula the means, when returning home, to bring along a "holy face" from the monastery. They were then produced in larga numbers even by the craftsmeri from the proximity of Gherla, Ogna, Sapac, Hajdate and Silvas being nowadays a part of the visual heritage of the place.
The symposium on the theme "The Writing, from the Cradle to the Grave" have brought together artists with different trainings (sculptors, painters and ceramists), being almost impossible to find artists exclusively dedicated to engraving mainly because the contemporary artist uses engraving only on special occasions or as
an experiment (see the case of the german sculptor and engraver
The works of the sixteen artists invited (Agnes Birebent France;
Aurel Bulacu, Marian Coman, Ionel Cojocariu, Maxim Dumitras, Mircea Dumitrescu, Daniela Fainis, Suzana Fantanaru, Alexandru Gavrilas Romania; Helga Lecca Germany; Gheorghe Muresan, Mircea Nechita, Liliana Moraru, Stefan Pelmus, Anca Pintilie, Mariana Serban Romania) are simultaneously integrated within the figurative tradition ofthe Romanian rural world, within the modern and the contemporary art, but also into the background and into the characters ofSingeorz. What connects these artworks, mare than the traditional technique that forces the artist to essentialize his vision, is the location and the time: a museum nearthe mountains at the beginning ofthe third millennium, a museum which intends to be one of its time and also of past times as if it could be out of time and in the presant simultaneously.
By an essentialization ofthe ferm, imposed by the wood engraving technique, emerged and were emphasized the relationships between the artist, his inner world and even to the mysterious world of the village and its symbolic writing. A table encircled by high bar- like chairs, painted in rad, on the surfaces ofwhich is engraved in reversed order (as for a plaque used in wood engraving) a surrealist poem forthe dog in the museum's yard (Agnes Birebent), the portrait of the mother of Maxim Dumitras, or the violent one of Daniela Fainis. A mysterious title as "About Love in Times Left Behind" (M. Coman) suggests a magical universe; the mysterious apparition of an aged couple exults the joy of living a simple life (Mircea Dumitrescu "The Joy of Living"). An outburst of colourtotally invading the surface area ofthe paper is "The Dragon" by Suzana Fantanaru; the universe of the Romanian village is represented by Mircea Nechita in his work "The village's world" through straight lines somehow similar to nativa wood engravings. These are just a few of the works that will be exhibited during a year in three great art galleries in the country, bringing along the ambiency of Sirigeorz and above aII the atmosphere of the past and of the presant world, inviting the public and the artists to reflect and debate.
We must not be unaware of the fact that the most appropriate place to see these works is Singeorz, mare precisely the spaGa of the Compared Art Museum for which they were created. Like the entire project, the symposium itself intended to compare and invite the artists to share a personal comparativa vision of soma inner worlds and ofthose around them.
The blending of generations and artists so differents in training didn't compromisa the exhibition, by no means (a case we carne across so often), and neither made it lack of unity. Because it was net conceived as an exhibition but as a workshop intended to complement with artworks the museum's collection, being itself on a stage of "work in progress", the exhibition acquires spontaneity and originality. This is how the engravings offer themselves in a sincera way and without any curatorial approaches, speaking about the spiritual ties between traditional art and contempoi"ary art through the artists who have experimented and have communicated bya shared spaGa that made easier the meeting of the artistic past with the presant.