Geoffrey Tyler's thoughts on Stefan Caltia
I first knew Caltia’s work through a small oil painted on a panel in a gallery. It was called ‘Personage in a Performance’ and showed an actor under a small canopy. It was beautifully painted, mainly with a golden background, and framed with a gold frame. Subsequently, I obtained a number of Caltia’s works, covering all his styles. Caltia, who was a professor at the university, painted a variety of subjects. Some were pure landscapes or still lifes, extremely realistically done, many with leafless trees in winter, their black branches creating tracery design. One of these, an autumn scene, was a gift to the Collection by the Petrescus. Caltia was technically a superb draughtsman and painter. However, most of his works had an element of fantasy in them. For example, some were Romanian landscapes, quite realistic but with perhaps an outsize bird flying above the fields. At the extreme of Caltia’s fantasies are what I call his ‘grotesques’, somewhat with the characteristics of Bosch and Brueghel the Elder. In this style the Collection includes a large canvas ‘The Circus’ and a small book of ’25 Intaglios’. The latter is beautifully bound in boards and soft distressed leather, a pleasure to handle as well as to look at, although the grotesques are not to everyone’s taste. The artist gave me one of his copper plates used in the intaglio book. As mentioned, Caltia is a superb draughtsman and he gave me several pen and ink drawings and graphics in his grotesque style.
Personally, Caltia’s works gave me very great pleasure and he was very well regarded by his colleagues, in addition to being sought after in the art market. When I visited his studio to buy, he rarely had more than one or two paintings available and sometimes none. That I had little choice was not particularly important, because his work never fell below a very high quality standard. By the same token, one cannot reject the argument that technique was more important in his overall work than is the case for most artists. This is not to say the pleasure to be gained from looking at his work is less than from looking at other artists. For me it is an aspect which, together with his love of fantasy, makes me like him so much.