Marin Gherasim



Marin Gherasim



Birth Date





artist, painter

Biographical Text

Marin Gherasim was born in 1937 in Radauti, Bucovina, the region of externally painted monasteries. He came from a family of peasants, though his father was an Orthodox priest. The iconographic frescoes he saw around him were to be an important influence throughout his career. Other early influences were his uncle Vasile Gherasim, who had been a colleague of the philosopher Lucian Blaga, and the literary and musical evenings held in his house.

As a student at the Institute of Fine Arts in Bucharest (1956-1962), Gherasim showed an interdisciplinary curiosity, organising evenings of music, art, and literature. He became close to the critic Petru Comarnescu, a mentor figure who encouraged him to become an artist. Ion Tuculescu was another great influence on Gherasim, leading him to a more subjective treatment of his village subjects, which gradually moved into an abstracting universe with mythical elements.

Gherasim had a short period of abstract expressionism, although what seemed to interest him was not pure gesture but the liminal tension of composition. Afterwards, he evolved from pictorial to graphic representation, taking up the theme of megalopolis (large city), and adopting a conceptualist perspective in relating image to reality. Characterising his urban phase after megalopolis, Gherasim called it “a scream, an explosion: the attempt to free myself from an obsession”.

Gherasim experienced a need to resemantize the theme of creation, to recharge his creative vision with new meaning. This emerges more precisely in the thematic cycle of apses, imagery which is simultaneously a purely pictorial image and a metaphor: “the upper semi-circle is an architectural element – both cupola but also celestial space, light, skies.” This idea emerges more strongly in his cycle of thrones, as his “architecture” acquires an ineffable weightless significance. The relationship between space and object, for example between apse and throne, is revealed as reciprocal and direct.

The idea of ascending and descending is present throughout Gherasim’s work. Thrones, for instance, have a foundation, and are interpreted from below upwards, suggesting ascension. The fortress cycle illustrates this theme of construction and accumulation like archaeological strata, thus highlighting “the double meaning of image: ascending and descending”.

The Book Cycle (1985) announced a new horizon within the thematic organization of his work. His depiction of books follows a pattern: the book is open and placed in the centre of the painting, but as an object it becomes smaller and smaller, no longer filling in the image, transforming the nothingness from which it emerges.

Gherasim has an interest in the concrete aspects of painting, and densifies pigments by adding sand to them, which creates powerful sculptural effects and reflects his need to control artistic form. He understands painting as an expressive language with pronounced autobiographical notes. “Te pictezi pe tine” (You paint yourself). “I conceive painting as a diary of my life”, wrote Marin Gherasim in an exhibition catalogue from 1969. Art, he argues, needs to be integrated “organically among all our other acts”, to be part of “our whole being, our moral being”.

Entry authored by Dr Alex Popescu, Dec 2016




“Marin Gherasim,” Tyler Collection of Romanian and Modern Art: University of Tasmania, accessed July 23, 2017,