Very little is known about the life of Dr. Corneliu Petrescu. He was born in 1924 in Slanic, Prahova, and was encouraged to study medicine by his parents. He was an accomplished researcher in clinical endocrinology and completed his doctoral thesis under Stefan Milcu, a prominent member of the Romanian Academy.
He worked in medicine for almost two decades, but in his late 40s, in circumstances still unknown, he made a decision to pursue his vocation as an artist. During his student years in the mid-1950s, he had been involved in Ion Tuculescu’s circle, and according to later catalogues, he began exhibiting paintings from 1956, while still a medical student. He also produced woodcuts in this period. Petrescu was self-taught as an artist, but apparently took lessons and worked in the studios of some of the great artists of Romania.
His first formal exhibition was the Artists Union (UAP) exhibition of 1963, and he later took part in exhibitions abroad, both within and outside the Soviet Bloc. By the 1970s, he had also had solo exhibitions in Bucharest and Holland, where he was taken up by the Jacques Sieverding Gallery. He undertook several study trips to the USSR, Holland, and Italy.
In the mid-1970s he became good friends with the Australian-American collector Geoffrey Tyler, who met him while working in Romania for the IMF and later invited him and his wife to America on several occasions. These trips opened new horizons for Petrescu and led to the rediscovery of his Byzantine roots. In 1993, he underwent open-heart surgery in the States.
He exhibited his work in Philadelphia, New York and Washington D.C, and developed a new series of postcard-sized works which were periodically sent to Tyler. The friendship continued through letters and emails until Petrescu’s death in Bucharest in 2009.
Entry authored by Dr Alex Popescu, Dec 2016