Constantin Severin

 

Photo by Mihai Burlacu

 

(Romania)

 

 

 

THE SIGNS OF TIME. Archetypal energies.

The alchemy diary of a”Cucuteni painter”

 

 

 

       Text and Time 49, Oil on Canvas, 70 x 100 cm, 2006
 

 

 

by Iulia MESEA

 

 

 

       Text and Time 71, Oil and Canvas, 60 X 80 cm, 2009
 

 

 

A contemporary representative of the tendencies according to which art is a way of remembrance and contemplation of the Paradise Lost, Constantin Severin comes up with his creation as a potential solution, a returning to the essence, to the archaic, and the possible springs of art.

 

Honest and disinhibited, the artist lives intensely, feels deeply and wishes strongly to understand the meanings of the world and to freely communicate that which we may call his revelations. Writer, visual artist, journalist, founder of the Archetypal Expressionism, founder of the international group ”The Third Paradigm”, member of the German association “European Artists”, having participated in numerous personal and group, national and international exhibitions (The Metaphors of Time, Matrioska Identities, The Alchemic City, My Archetypal Suceava), in Germany (2004 and 2005), Norway (2009), the Visual Arts Museum of Galati (2009), with works exhibited in collections in Romania, Germany, Canada, England, Finland, USA, Norway, Italy, Switzerland and Ukraine, Constantin Severin stands out through the complexity and tenacity with which he submits his message to our analysis, understanding and enjoyment.
 

 

 

       Text and Time 75, Oil and Canvas, 70 X 100 cm, 2010
 

 

 

The works selected for the exhibition at Brukenthal National Museum are illustrative of his stylistic options, for the way he has chosen to establish a means of communication with the spectator. His artworks sometimes look like pages from an esoteric book, with still unknown alphabets, or like works of nature, works of soil erosion caused by waters or winds. Constantin Severin’s creations evoke the avant-garde space, a territory of freedom, which is an essential condition for any artistic experiment. Proposing the concept of Archetypal Expressionism, the painter wants to clarify his terms, framework, inspirational sources, artistic message and techniques of expression, providing the spectator with ways and keys to the metabolism and process of his creation. In his view, the Archetypal Expressionism is defined by resorting to the archetype as an essential element of language, by finding mankind’s common cultural roots after removing the superficial, superfluous and accidental accretions of time: “The Archetypal Expressionism is to be found between the two major paradigms of contemporary art: the figurative and the abstract. It represents a spiritual search for common roots beyond history’s tragic accidents. It is an art suspended between the real and the imaginary, requiring rigour and mystery”, the artist says, including here the creation of Brancusi, Klee and Țuculescu, whom he considers his mentors.

 

The return in time, to the archetypal areas of culture and mankind, to primeval ages, when the being melted with the universe, can be claimed by the very contents of the Expressionism. The pure and bright colour in the artworks signed by Constantin Severin breathes, nonetheless, the harsh and painful expressionist violence specific to the concept, relating more to Robert Delauney’s solar-like chromaticism. The emphasis added by the painter, who calls this paradigm Archetypal Expressionism, wishes to circumscribe his favourite sources, themes and motifs. “The archetype is a universal symbol. The archetypal fields are real, a mystery of the universe.”
 

 

 

       Text and Time 82 Oil and Canvas, 50 X 70 cm 2011
 

 

 

       Text and Time 91, Oil and Canvas , 50 X 90 cm, 2012
 

 

 

Constantin Severin’s main artistic features are complexity and simplicity, two apparently oppositional terms, the contents of which are employed, however, in such a manner that they coexist and sustain each other in his art. The viewer is consequently challenged either to analyse, synthesize and interpret by reading symbols with a simple figuration and a ludic arrangement, or to find out the right reading in a maze of keys and linked, nuanced and chromatically potentiated signs.

 

 

 

       Text and Time 94, Oil an Canvas, 70 x 100 cm, 2012

 

 

 

The most frequently quoted archetypes are the “primordial”, primitive culture statuettes. The Thinker of Hamangia of the Neolithic Age, the violin-shaped nubile statuettes of the Cucuteni and Gumelnița cultures, joined by Las Meninas and Pope Innocent X by Velasquez, Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine, Andrea Mantegna’s The Dead Christ, Jan van Eyck’s The Arnolfini Portrait and so on.

 

 

 

       Text and Time 110, Oil an Canvas, 56 x 80 cm, 2015
 

 

 

By sublimating the utilitarian function through repeated figurations, recasts and stylisations, a distaff takes on new connotations, one of them being the Lyre of Orpheus – whose godly music is a mythical archetype for the power of art; then, the power trident, the caduceus, a symbol of transformation, of energies that fight and complete each other at the same time, or the axis mundi.

 

 

 

       Text and Time 112 (The Couple), Oil and Canvas, 70 x 90 cm, 2015
 

 

 

The concatenation formed by a repeat of the motifs/ the stylized distaff or statuette, the geometrical figure, and so on/ is meant to bring about movement and life to the composition contents. Prehistory art motifs such as spirals, circles, ovoids, ellipses, lines, bands, solar or heavenly symbols, alphabet signs, incisions, or dados, together with their arrangement in intertwined spirals, sectioned, reduced to curlicues, meanders, laid out in horizontal, vertical, oblique, circular, concentric or other kinds of rows, provide, through their placement, symmetry, balance, rhythm and raise geometric symbolism to art status. The multiplication and manifold use of signs, forms and geometric shapes give colour and create gateways to other dimensions, in hope for an ability to ignore the constraints of the logic of time and space.

 

 

 

       Text and Time 114 (Birdman), Oil and Canvas, 60 X 80 cm 2016
 

 

 

The mono-, bi-, or trichromatic colour, employed like in the painted ceramics of the primordial cultures, is endowed with an expressive force so as to attain musical sonorities that uphold the rhythm of each composition, accomplished either through sign strings, or through an interplay between the full and the void, hiatuses and changes of pace, or through reflections and echoes. In the monochromatic works, the forms begin to appear discreetly, yet with suggestive force, from different nuances or textures, where colour seems to spring up and radiate. The synesthetic effects are not accidental, the painter considering music as the supreme art.

 

Text and time. The creative word, “In the beginning was the Word” and the absolute time. The artist obsessively and implicitly resumes the time theme in his attempt to seize in his work this ineffable dimension, which he, at least, succeeds in marking off as a transition space, forever the same and forever slipping away. Janus installation (Janus Bifrons is a god of passage rituals and transition phenomena) alludes to this very moment of fluidity between the past and the future, fundamentally relying on quotations from classical art (Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine).

 

Classical masterpieces, as cultural archetypes, show up in several compositions that are part of the expressionist archetypal series Text and Time, alternating with the primordial archetype. The Arnolfini Portrait (Jan van Eyck) (Text and Time 65), marked by linear and chromatic segments, contributes to the consolidation of one of the cultural evolution layers, the couple and the birth symbol being rendered essential in an orphic manner, then in the two united semicircles of light from another layer of history. The symbolism of colours, in simultaneous and complementary contrasts, nuances the message and strengthens the visual impact.
 

 

 

       Text and Time 113 (Archetypal), Oil and Canvas, 70 X 90 cm, 2016
 

 

 

In a composition whose meanings coagulate in a construction of overlapping planes, or planes that deepen thanks to the dynamic play of segments of lines, forms and colours (Text and Time 7), one of the Neolithic masterpieces of Hamangia becomes a generator, keeper and creator of successive cultural layers. In the composition Text and Time 94, similarly made, the primordial cultural archetype supports and feeds the classical masterpiece through an effusion of colours.

In this way, by means of carefully chosen and compositionally related signs, Constantin Severin establishes new significations, challenging us to think again and differently about apparently known ideas and values. When the play or the confrontation of forms seems slow, pure colour adds dynamic accents that lead to retakes and reinterpretations.

Between poetic feelings and intellectual tensions, juggling with elements of highly visual impact – pure colour, iconic image, inner rhythms, and so forth – Constantin Severin engages the spectator in a network of correlations, synapses, interpretations and emotions. His artworks, metaphors with a magic flavour, are meant to unleash intuitions and feelings so as to return to truths that mankind has forgotten but are still to be found in a latent state in our subconscious. Thus, we are invited to rediscover that which once was self-evident, that divine seed hidden deep inside us, in an endeavour of “healing” the contemporary world, confronted by confusions and destructive reversals of values.

 

 

English version by Dumitru Ovidiu Solonar

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Constantin Severin is the founder and promoter of a new concept/movement on the contemporary art scene, the Archetypal Expressionism. He was born on February 8th, 1952, in Baia de Arama, Mehedinti, Romania. He is a visual artist, member of Ottawa Art Association, Canada, co-founder of the International Art Group ”The 3rd Paradigm” and founder of the Archetypal Expressionism Group (www.archetypalexpressionism.com). He is also a writer, member of the Romanian Writers’ Union and a journalist (he worked for different Romanian publications, but also for BBC and Free Europe radio) and he is one of the editors of the international cultural magazine, Levure littéraire, Paris. A graduate of “G. Asachi” Technical University of Iaşi, Romania, and, in 2015, of the International Writing Program at the University of Iowa, USA. His art is promoted by the international auction house Lavacow, Bucharest. He has published over 800 articles, essays and interviews on culture, art theory and criticism, as well as on other issues of Romanian and international interest. A jury member for prestigious international art contests, his concepts and artworks have been published by major international art and literary magazines, like Artdaily, World Literature Today, It’s Liquid, Levure littéraire, Empireuma, Contemporanul, Vatra, Arkitera, Glare Magazine, Cuadernos del Ateneo, Dance and Media Japan, Pro Saeculum, etc.

 

 

Activity as a visual artist

Solo exhibitions: -”Text and Time”, September 2004, Bucovina Museum, Suceava, Romania, (promoted by the EuroNews cultural Agenda). -”The Signs of the Time”, November 2004, NahVision Art Gallery, Stuttgart, Germany (also promoted by the EuroNews Agenda). -”Time’s Metaphors”, February 2006, Velea (TransArt) Art Gallery,Bacau, Romania. -”Matrioshka Identities”, February 2007, Art Gallery of the ”Stephen the Great” University, Suceava, Romania. -”The Alchemical City”, January 2009, Lascar Vorel Art Gallery, Piatra Neamt, Romania (promoted by EuroNews TV channel, Rendez-vous cultural magazine). -”My Archetypal Suceava City”, April 2009, Dalype Gallery, Oslo, Norway. -”Text and Time. The Archetypal Expressionism”, November-December 2009, Museum of Visual Art, Galati, Romania. -”Totem. In memoriam Ion Ţuculescu”, June 2010, Museum of Art, Drobeta Turnu Severin, Romania. -”Selfportrait with Guardian Angel”, June 2011, Romanian Literature Museum, Iaşi, Romania. -Retrospective solo show 2002-2012, February 2012, Bucovina Museum, Suceava, Romania. -”Gauguin’s Children”, May 2012, Elite Art Gallery, Bucharest, Romania. – ”Hierarchy of Light” (monochrome painting), October 2013, Elite Art Gallery, Bucharest, Romania.

-”Archetypal Energies”, October 2015, Museum ”Iulian Antonescu”, Bacău, Romania, as a guest artist of the National Literature Festival ”George Bacovia”.

–  »The Signs of Time. Archetypal Energies », October-November 2016, The Museum of Contemporary Art from the Brukenthal National Museum, Sibiu, Romania.

 

 

Group exhibitions, art fairs, international art projects: -International  Cultural Centre, Helsinki, Finland, April 2005. -National Museum of History, Chisinau, Republic of Moldavia, June 2006. -Stanzwerk Bochum, Germany, June-July 2007,  art symposium organized by European Artists Association. -Mount Beacon Fine Art Gallery, New York, January-February 2009, group show organized by Mirca Art Group, curator Carla Goldberg, NY. -International Art Center ”George Apostu”, Bacau, Romania, group show ”The Wineyard and the Wine”, February 2009,  organized by the museum/art gallery of art brut Galerie de 4 coins, France. -Marseille Project Gallery, Marseille, France, ”Spring Projection” project, March 2009. -TransCultural Exchange, Boston, Little Gallery New York, The International Exquisite Corps Project by Mary Corey March, April 2009, together with other 18 international artists from 12 countries. -Design Gallery, University of Massachussets, Boston Cyberarts Festival, April 2009, DSL Cyber MOCA in Second Life, ”TransForm”international  project, curated by Lily&Honglei. -Opera Gallery, Budapest, May 2009, group exhibition by artists from the 27 member states of EU. -Funil Art Gallery, Lisbon, Portugal, February 2010, 3rd Paradigm group show. -Jose de Lorenzo Gallery, Santiago de Compostela, Spain, July 2010, 3rd Paradigm group show. -Vieira Portuense Gallery, Oporto, Portugal, October 2010, 3rd Paradigm group show. -Rearte Gallery, Vienna, Austria, October 2011, Privatsphären (Private Spheres), group show of 3rd Paradigm International Artists Group.The show was presented by Elisabeth Ledersberger-Lehoczky, vicepresident of Austrian Art Association and president of the Sculpture department and was featured by the art magazine It’s Liquid.  – International art fair, Art Wiesloch, Wiesloch, Germany, September 2012, with the members of 3rd Paradigm Group. – Kaplanka Museum, Protivin, Czech Republic, September 2012, with the members of 3rd Paradigm Group. – Rotterdam International Art Fair, organized by the Global Art Agency, September 2014.

 

 

Art Awards and Honours:

-UNESCO Ambassador of Eurointegration through Art, in 2008. -Excellence Award offered by the City Hall of Drobeta Turnu Severin City and the County Council of Mededinţi, Romania, December 2009. -OPERA OMNIA Art Award offered by Suceava County Council, January 2012. -”Black Sea Danubian Social&Economic Innovator” Trophy for Art, offered by Eurolink-House of Europe Foundation, Bucharest, May 2012, in partnership with the European Commission and the Romanian Academy, for ”creating and promoting a new concept in European arts, Archetypal Expressionism.” – Honorary citizen of his birthtown, Baia de Aramă, Mehedinţi, Romania, in May 2011. – Featured artist by ”It’s Liquid” international art, architecture &design magazine, November, 2012. – Featured artist by ”Casa Lux” monthly magazine, the first glossy magazine in Romania, September, 2014.

– Featured poet&artist by Trafika Europe magazine, USA, August 2016.

 

 

Artbooks, catalogues:

-Works published by ”Freedom & art”, Art book Project by Mirca Art Group, Sweden 2008. -Art book printed by the Museum of Art from Drobeta Turnu Severin, Romania and art catalogue made by the Museum of Visual Art, Galati, Romania, 2009. -Included on ”The illustrated dictionnary of beaux arts in Moldova-1800 to 2010”, , Art XXI publishing house, Iaşi, 2011. -Included through a selection made by 5 international art curators in the art book ”International Contemporary Artists”, ICA Publishing, New York, 2011, by Eve Lemonidou (art critic, art collector and curator) and Olga Antoniadou (art historian and curator). -Included by the American visual artist and curator, Harriette Lawler, in the artbook Privatsphären (Private Spheres), in 2011 and also on ”Estuary: A Confluence of Art & Poetry”, published by Moon and Mountain, 2012.

– Bilingual art album Romanian/English, published by Tipo Moldova, Iasi, 2013.

Artworks in public (Bucovina Museum Suceava, The Museum of Art Piatra Neamt, The Museum of Art Drobeta Turnu Severin and the National Brukenthal Museum, Sibiu, Romania) and private collections from Romania, Germany, France, USA, Finland, Norway, Canada, Switzerland, Ukraine, Italy, Great Britain, etc.

 

 

Activity as a writer

Works: -’’The Sunday of Things Real” (poetry), Junimea Publishing House, Iasi, Romania, 1984. -”Wall and Neutrino” (poetry, bilingual edition-Romanian/English, translated by Liviu Martinescu), Vlasie Publishing House, Pitesti, Romania, 1994; the poem was included as such in the anthology of ”Contemporary Romanian Poetry” by Marin Mincu, Pontica Publishing House, 2000 and some fragments in the antology “After the Wall Fell: Dispatches from Central Europe (1989–2014)” published by World Literature Today in November 2014; the poem won The Bucovina Cultural Foundation Award. -”Wall and Neutrino. The Poet in New York”, Minerva Publishing House, London, 1997; English version by Liviu Martinescu. -”Improvisations on armonic key” (poetry), Axa Publishing House, Botosani, Romania, 1998. -”The Axolotl” (poetry), Masina de Scris Publishing House, Bucharest, 1998; the first renga (renku) book in the Romanian literature, bilingual edition-Romanian/English, translation by Liviu Martinescu; book awarded by the Bucovina Cultural Foundation, 1999; -”The Alchemical City” (selected poems), Dacia Publishing House, Cluj-Napoca, Romania, 2002; awarded by the Bucovina Cultural Foundation, 2003. -”The Sacred Empire. Monasteries and churches in Northern Moldavia”(essays), Paralela 45 Publishing House, Pitesti, Romania, 2003. -”Esto’s Lover” (novel), Curtea Veche Publishing House, Bucharest, Romania, 2010. -”Improvisations on armonic key” (poetry, Opera Omnia), Tipo Moldova publishing house, Iasi, 2011. – ”The Big Game” (essays, Opera Omnia), Tipo Moldova publishing house, Iasi, 2012. His poems have been published by major Romanian, Spanish, American, British, Japanese and Belgian literary magazines. Literary Awards: -The haiku poetry award offered by Daily Yomiuri newspaper, Japan,1996. -The award for cultural journalism given by the Romanian Ministry of Culture, 1998. -The award for cultural journalism given by the City Hall and the County Council of Suceava, 2001. -Naji Naaman Honorary Award for the whole activity, Lebanon, 2010. Honorary member of Maison Naaman pour la Culture. -His poems have been selected by the Spanish editor, writer and visual artist Fernando Sabido Sánchez for his unique online anthology of poetry, ANTOLOGÍA POESÍA UNIVERSAL and by the literary experts from The East Tennessee State University, USA for Best Poems Encyclopedia. -Premio Internazionale “Messina Città d’Arte” 2011, Messina, Italy, for the English version of the poem ”The Alchemical City”.

– The Romanian Writers Union-Bacau Association Award, 2011, for the novel ‘’Esto’s Lover’’. -Included in the General Dictionnary of the Romanian Literature, Vol. VI, 2007, edited by the Romanian Academy and published by Univers Enciclopedic Publishing House.

 

Constantin Severin’s art site: http://constantinseverin.ro/

 

 

       With the Art Historian & Critic Iulia Mesea and the Curator Robert Strebeli, at the Opening…

 

 

 

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BIO

 

Iulia Mesea is an art historian and critic, curator at the Brukenthal National Museum, Sibiu, Romania.

Author of many art books and exhibition catalogues, she is a Master in History and Philosophy of Art at the Central European University, Prague, Czech Republic and a Doctor in Art History at Babeş-Bolyai University, Cluj-Napoca, Romania.

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