Reflections on Thoughts
-a different kind of interview-
A friend, an artist, once told me that maybe I was not painting for the present times. That’s the way it may be, I said, but when people look at my works eager to find out about Horia…wouldn’t it be something ? “We both dodged any” if “and agreed that … maybe 60 years from now on. I smiled,I got angry and suddenly started to feel dizzy. Then an idea flashed my mind, to invite some people who are familiar with my works to ask me some questions for a virtual interview … 60 years after. It’s an exercise, nothing more …
How is it to live two lives at once in two realities, mundane and supermundane?
Well, I had to look up in the dictionary to understand the exact meaning of the term … I have no more education than others, so every day I learn to live a bit of each human experience. I would not say these are different realities. Or I try to put them together as if they were the hands from the Prayer Way. My head is full of crazy things, little nothings and lots of”great” things, as some see it. I thank God for allowing me to yearn for His Light every day. I’m often stuck in the hustle and bustle of everyday life, also in troubles and furies … sometimes, but I do not surrender…
Then, I have people who help me at all times. When my King rose up and stepped into the Realm of Heaven, I stood stone-still at the devastating pain of the weight of His step. Then I quickly ran to Budila, the village where I spent my childhood and where my grandfather was a priest. I sat in front of my Grandfather’s cross, and I watched my candle burning free extinguished by no gust of wind. I spoke to him and I drew his attention … for him to know that a heart which epitomized a Country was ruptured from earthly life and moved there. We “intervened” with the righteous … Then I went to a Friend’s house, where I felt Grandfather’s warm hand over the stole on top of my head. What does this “supermundane”mean, when God ,through the Holy Spirit reveals us at every step?
How many times do you wake up in front of your own creations feeling amazed, tired and of course happy (I’m not talking about a terrestrial happiness, but about an angelic/celestial one)? I am still asking you about the moment of revelation …
How great it would be to “see” the revelation right after its descent! Or not? Would we still be able, aware of the “gift” we received, to try again? Or would we lock ourselves in the “sufficiency” of hazard? I once said that a word means nothing when it’s just spoken. It must also be heard… so as to mean something. It goes the same with my drawings.
All in all, the whole revelation comes only when the eyes and heart of others Look. Otherwise I think God would take me to His Realm, would give me a table and plenty of paper, and would let me paint freely, without ever noticing my presence.
As we know, most artists become cherished and valued post-mortem. During their life they face ebbs and flows sometimes with big disappointments or even with despair.
Tell me, what exactly made you keep moving forward and not to stop? Is it a boost, a power, a desire or a dream?
I’m not going to say anything about “despair” now. These things are well known by both psychologists and priests. Everybody fights against this the way he can. However I have a great advantage. An impulse and a memory. First, my mind “romps” most of the time when I’m not bogged down in the domestic „consumption” . So I quickly jump straight into color painting. I must immediately “say”it with colors. I have the faith that somebody (at least my kids) will ever flip through all these drawings and paintings … even if I could not even buy a loaf of bread with those paintings. No, I bought them … a candle. Is it small stuff ?!?
Then the memory. When I was little, I used to „fall in the dumps” – as Grandpa said – and then he came sticking his forehead to my forehead. Without ever asking what I have, he said, “God is our Hope!”
I always say some wishing well words for my closest family and friends: “Happy Birthday, Health and Hope!”
… This works miracles !
As I know you, you put a bit of your heart and soul in every work. Maybe in some of them, you put a lot more of your soul …! Tell us what is the work (or what are the works) in which you invested most? I mean soul, energy, emotion … and why?
That’s the question I was afraid of. As a result of such questions, “cliché” answers also come up. I’m trying to dodge the question.
Once a great TV star asked an artist-photographer : “how long does it take you to take a picture”?. Poor man, what was he supposed to answer to such a crazy question? He was completely bewildered. Had I been in his position (but still in my armchair) I would have answered that it takes me about “the thousandth part of a second.” But no one ever asked me … So that’s why I say that each and every piece of work is “the one in which I put my heart and soul” … except for the fact that I put all my soul and the gift I received … in each. You just see them different from this point of view.
If you could travel in time and have the opportunity to meet and talk to any of the artistic personalities of the world, who would you like to meet? What would you tell him? What exactly would you ask him?
What am I to answer you now, Oana ? You’d probably want to hear a conversation between me and Michelangelo or Leonardo? … I would not know what to say,anything else but: “my highest appreciation” and “have a nice day”, I would be shocked. But if I were to talk to someone … actually to listen to ,or even more than this, just to see them working, these would be Nicolae Grigorescu, Luchian or Brâncuşi. I particularly love these people as much as I loved Iacubovici, my painting teacher. I never complied with his style, but I enjoyed his grace and gift as an artist and a teacher. All of them dip their brush in the earth sap, where I will be lowered too. I am earthbound to the blooming and sunny land of the Country. It’s a very intimate relationship between us, between artists … through the spirit of our lands.
I have, though, a favourite character … Noah. I like it beyond limits! He keeps me chained to Heaven …
Guido Van de Meent:
Art is said to make the world; our everyday life would not be possible without symbols. How essential is art for society?
Do you mean that our life would not be possible without symbols? Theoretically, it is true. Except that people easily go through them without understanding their significance. And so everything rises to a strictly functional level … like the traffic signs.
The symbols I “perfect” in my creations, I strive to keep them alive. I pray God to illuminate my mind and release my soul from “the evil” to allow me to express them. Yes, sometimes people tell me that my works are hard to understand. Then, if they take their time to watch … they have some kind of revelation. They discover, in fact, something that is inside them. For so long I have been thinking that it is enough to show everybody what you did, but it isn’t so.It is only after that comes the hard work for the artist. In a superficial register, it seems that no one has time for symbols.
What everybody wants is the “translation” of the work into the easiest possible terms. That is how some have come to mix up”design” with the artistic act that imposes itself as being more profound than an image that only matches the sofa. That’s why they hardly enjoy if they see a simple lane bordered by some clay walls all along … “So what?” … Sometimes I have the power to pull their sleeves and ask them to “look” out of the windows of my houses. To see their story, the people living there, their joys, the neighbours or the blossoming cherry the lace in the window is in love with…
My paintings seem obsolete because I do not paint car lights, souvenirs or telegraph poles. I remove all this visual noise by inviting them to watch Life… or what has enlivened the place for decades or hundreds of years. So I think , if they feel like looking they will spend a lot of time in front of a painting. It is the Time that I’m offering. I want to see them in their homes, travelling with me in the Quietness of other times.
You are a consumer, aren’t you? It’s wonderful , but where do you buy quietness from? That’s the way you will see that the windows are “worshipped” as the sign of the Cross … before the life light pierces their silence.
How could you, through art, determine the spiritual awareness of your audience?
First, with deep sincerity. What I paint is displayed in front of people to invite them to meditation. I do not make up stories, I paint those that are revealed to me. And I do it with great joy. Otherwise it would be just craft and I would force …getting a “like” in order to meet the needs of the “consumer society”. So if there is only sincerity and joy … my works will reach that level where the Spirit dwells and they will rejoice and make people look up in the clearness of Heaven. Otherwise it is not possible.
Your grandfather’s hand, the King’s hand and the hand of God … What does your work convey to future generations?
Let’s get back to the symbol. I received the Holy Communion and the sign of the Cross from my Grandfather’s hand , from the King’s hand I received the love for my Country, Justice and Truth. They all passed away, but all I’m left with is the Lord’s hand that I feel warm on the top of my head. I imagined, out of clay, the hand that “teaches”, which conveys the power of the Holy Trinity in the worship gesture of a child. It is a work that, besides three other works, belonged to the series “In the sign of the Cross”. I particularly implied by crafting there the space between the two gestures as an energy, a tension accumulated in thousands of years of Faith, of love and sacrifice.
That’s how I painted “A Hand symbol of a Country” … The Dacians used to hold a handful of land when they departed to their god. It is this very land they used to cling to at every death, the same they did with their mother’s shirt … Dead heroes for their Nation, for Faith and for Justice.
I had a sort of “success” with this work. My deep regret is that it did not reach King Michael, (it would have been something extraordinary, wouldn’t it?). But “there will be another day” . And the King and Gavril The Hero and Grandfather… will not leave for good anymore.
Have you ever made any concessions in your works?
I don’t think I’ve made, I do not remember.
I have a job that allowed me, without moving too far from the “symbol”, to pay my bills. I certainly do not complain, but I wish everybody “consumed” fewer “traffic signs ” and nourish their soul with beauty.
Some “British researchers” have discovered that we won’t take anything with us into the afterlife … except for our soul.
What do you think is the key to your success?
Some people are born for success. What does success mean? Our reason to live is different …
Someone once asked a woman writer if she “earns her living as a writer.” The writer’s answer,perhaps because of her emotion, rolled like a cliché. I wanted to ask … what do you mean by “living”?
You know Guido … there’s a Romanian saying … “God makes a nest even to a blind sparrow” …
“The Office” has become a popular place for Japanese tourists. What does this place mean for you?
Your set of questions started with a reference to the symbol. I’ll stick to this register. The Cafe you refer to is a place … where everybody drinks coffee. I accept that I have become so famous that Japanese tourists are teleported here to take pictures of the place we met … more than 60 years ago, to work for your first album- You and Alexandra Fits. For me, this place stands for a gate that opened to your art, to your compositions and Alexandra’s voice and spirit. I am the only one who was given many wings of inspiration through the “gate” you opened to me. (Actually I know that the place owes its fame to you ,still the the fat guy hologram lights up the narrow street so well …)
I have this nostalgia for a Place, for places. I feel them so rich in symbol and energy. That’s why, you and Alexandra, you were the only ones who saw my “workshop” in Greece or the clay oven where we painted together, the silence of a blue house.
So at this age, I still intend to go to Elisabeta Palace, on December 30th, to hang a Christmas adornment on its fence for the King to see it from above, as a testimony to the fact that I understood that my Country is a broken piece of the Heaven of the Righteous … where we will never be chased away from .
Laurențiu-Ciprian Tudor :
How do you see / conceive the relationship between art and religion (turning from the general to the particular, that is, applied to your art)?
Art, when it is not just a craft, can not be dissociated from the beating of the Holy Spirit’s wings. I for myself, can not dissociate them. Now, how religious artists are, it is hard to answer. But I hope that the thought of the origin of inspiration germinates in everybody’ mind. And that’s when humility appears. Artists are not left on the earth to speak for themselves. They convey … That’s it: they convey !That means they are “relays” of God’s good intentions. Of course, the relationship with religion can be different from person to person and from religion to religion. But an honest “dialogue” exists between Creation and Work. An artist is somewhere in between , in the middle … and he’s meant to convey.
As far as I’m concerned, the situation is clearer. I do not forget, I can not and do not want to walk away with my „vanities” from the Candlelight, from the prayer and my dialogue with God. The Faith I confess in my works makes me belong to the world. I am a man who knows where help comes from and where Hope lies. I am educated in this way, and I thank God for allowing me to find a place on The Way with a paintbrush in my hand. All I want is to invite others, to show them the “time circumference.” I experienced a lot, I painted, modelled or drew all kinds of things, but I always did it with humility and love for the ones who will ever see them. I want my works to be in front of the people … who will “turn” the time for their benefit. I sometimes stand next to a church overlooking a Greek village, “between a liturgy and a pine” … and I paint a world that no longer exists.
I turn my time “upside down” providing space for contemplation. I mean not “admiration.” This is not my goal. I want people who look at my works to return to a Time and understand its cyclicity. To understand that time is not a line from A to B. It is only then that despair arises. Ok, am I successful? …so and so. Few people have the time to join me in my “time”.
You can bet that some have hardly read this “experience” up to now. We might be the only readers, just the two of us … that’s why I “I’m letting go” this way. Why do I eliminate all the “daily life” in my paintings? Why is my Ouranopolis deserted of tourists and souvenirs? To make way for a love story, as old as the hills, between a tower and the small house behind it. Why is the boat alone, hastily dragged up onto the sand by a runaway fisherman, or why is there a rod left at the door of the church?
If you take the time to look, you will find the meaning of each symbol, you will “read” together with me the story of a journey ending in real world and beginning in the sacred world beyond. I invite you to cross the threshold together.
I do not paint “upon request” because I do not have this capacity. That’s how I came to give this “60 years after” interview. Today nobody has time, I said it before, but I keep asking them to stop and enjoy with me the gift they received.
What makes a fine artist happiest?
Look ! That makes him happy, if you really care about an artist’s fate .Look !
What is an artist’s mission in the world today? What concrete role should he play in the city?
Let’s make it clear, the first thing I suggest to the “local authorities” of today’s society is to tear down … the so-called ivory towers. Stop getting the artists trapped in your incomprehension and ignorance. An artist is not just a freak who is hiding in a kitchen and painting on the corner of a table. An Artist Confesses with every flash of colour. He wants to go public in the agora to show you a world …in fact the same world you live in ,except that you can’t see it anymore for the trivial „traffic lights ”.
I once went to see the exhibition of a painter, Paul Hitter and I was extremely impressed by the thematic arrangement of the works. He “Cried” about the suffering of political detainees (of the past regime), about the black sun of Baragan where the deportees were sent, about Easters sanctified by the tortures inside a prison. I immediately urged some people to move some stuck doors so I was able to make my own contribution to the display of the works in the shrine of “Sighet Memorial”. Many raised their eyebrows, unable to understand why I was striving to exhibit my own works. Because that was not important! Much more important was to make it possible for everybody to see his works and remain completely stunned in front of them at the majestic of confession. I only did what had to be done. God helped me this time too. And if he wants me to do it again, I’ll do it … until everybody understands the artist’s role in the society. Actually, I don’t even like that word, “society.” It’s like a windscreen behind which you can throw your own responsibility to your neighbour.
Some people are more vocal or more famous. Let them be, I’m happy for them. They should use “the rostrum” to voice their ideas and correct the lawlessness of the world. Even if that means no more exhibiting in”politically correct” cyma/museums.
Therefore, please, shatter “the ivory towers” from your imaginations and wisely spend the gift the good Lord gave to the world .
Artists can, as much as they can and as long as you support them, avoid getting out of the Way. Do not confuse A Hobby with Art. Teach your children and your souls to cherish this “frequency” of conveying Good and Love.
You once asked me about the urge behind the series of works “In the sign of the Cross”. I was telling you that I only did what I was allowed with my own means … I was also telling you about the woman in the church making the sign of the cross with her left hand … because that was the only one she had.
That’s what an artist does: he urges !