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As European Capital of Culture, Timișoara plays host to two major exhibitions dedicated to two great 20th century Romanian artists.
Victor Brauner (1903-1966) and Constantin Brâncuși (1876-1957) are the two most important Romanian cultural and artistic figures to enjoy strong international recognition. Victor Brauner was a Surrealist painter, sculptor and poet, while Constantin Brâncuși is widely acknowledged as the founder of modern sculpture. Two extensive exhibitions are dedicated to these two outstanding artists in Timișoara, the Romanian city which this year is holding the title of European capital of culture. The first exhibition is called "Victor Brauner: Invention and magic" and is held between 17th February and 28th May, while the second, entitled "Constantin Brâncuși: Romanian sources and universal perspectives" is held between 30th September this year and 28th January next year.
We had a talk with Ovidiu Șandor, the president of the Art Encounters Foundation, a co-organiser of the events, about these two exhibitions and the Art Encounters Biennale, which is taking place in Timișoara between 19th May and 16th July:
"The Art Encounters Foundation is partnering with the National Art Museum and the French Institute to take part in the European Capital of Culture programme. It's a very ambitious programme, with lots of extraordinary events in all areas. As far as our foundation is concerned, it is involved in the staging of the Victor Brauner exhibition, the first real retrospective of this artist in his home country, where he is unfortunately too little known, something we're hoping to change. Many of the works on display are on loan from the Pompidou Centre in Paris, and others are brought over from various museums around the country. I think this exhibition will give the public an opportunity to rediscover this Surrealist artist who is very important internationally. A Romanian Jew, his life was marked by the Second World War, and judging by what happens today, his life story is still relevant. The next event is the Art Encounters Biennale, which is already in its 5th year. This year's special edition will be looking at the relationship between art and technology in an exhibition organised by the Swiss curator Adrian Notz. While the other two exhibitions are dedicated to well-known artists, the Biennale is the kind of event that focuses on the contribution of the young generation of artists from Romania and from eastern Europe and of international artists whose work encapsulates today's trends, the way we relate to art, to technology and to everything around us. 30th of September will see the opening of the Brâncuși exhibition, the first retrospective dedicated to the sculptor in Romania and Central and Eastern Europe in the last 50 years. It will bring together, to Brâncuși's home country, his later works on loan from museums such as the Pompidou Centre in Paris, the Tate Modern in London and the Guggenheim Foundation in Venice, alongside some of his early works, many of which can be found in museums across Romania, such as the National Museum of Art in Bucharest and the National Museum on Art in Craiova. This exhibition is also organised together with the National Museum of Art in Timișoara and the French Institute."
Ovidiu Șandor also offered more details about the content of the exhibition dedicated to Victor Brauner:
"The Victor Brauner exhibition will bring together many works, mostly paintings, as he was best-known as a painter, as well as drawings. The works date from the time he lived and worked in Romania, especially in Bucharest, in the 1920s and 30s, when he was one of the most important artists of the avant-garde movement in the capital city, as well as from the time he lived in France, from the 1940s until his death in the 1960s. So, the works will cover his entire career. The exhibition also features some of his sculptures and an interview with Victor Brauner on film. Visitors will be able to see some of his most famous works, including his self-portrait with an injured eye, as if foreshadowing an event that would happen in real life a few years later, when a friend injured his eye during a bar fight. This kind of premonition is very much in line with the Surrealist philosophy, according to which there's a hidden relationship between reality and unreality, between life and dream and between fact and magic."
Ovidiu Șandor also unveiled some of the surprises of the big Constantin Brâncuși retrospective:
"The exhibition will feature a significant number of sculptures, both early works and works he produced later. Curated by Doina Lemny, the exhibition explores Brâncuși's transformation from a young artist who leaves Romania imbued with the local tradition and culture and who arrives in Paris, where he discovers on his own an impressive international world. The exhibition highlights the transformation undergone by his works to reach those refined forms of universal significance. Apart from his sculptures, visitors will be able to see a considerable amount of photographs taken by Brâncuși, with photography being an element of his work that is little known and appreciated in Romania. At some point, Brâncuși discovered photography and began to take photos of his works in his studio, spending a lot of time carefully positioning them and waiting for the right light to take pictures of them in various positions and various combinations of bases. In my opinion, Brâncuși teaches us in these photographs how to look at his sculptures. The exhibition will also contain drawings by Brâncuși, correspondence with friends from Romania, as well as videos, both footage filmed by the artist himself and by other important artists of the day showing Brâncuși working."
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