Silvia Radu

radu.jpeg

Title

Silvia Radu

Type

person

Birth Date

1935

Birthplace

Patroaia

Occupation

artist, sculptor, painter, potter

Biographical Text

Silvia Radu is a sculptor, potter and painter. She was born in 1935 in the village of Patroaia, Arges, north west of Bucharest. She studied at the Institute of Fine Arts in Bucharest under Ioan Lucian Murnu, graduating in 1960. Since 1961 she has exhibited almost annually, including international exhibitions, and had solo exhibitions across Romania.

Despite a natural humility and reluctance to speak about herself, Radu is something of a quiet rebel who refuses moral compromises. Before the Revolution in 1989, she arranged an exhibition of self-portraits at the Dalles Gallery in Bucharest as a reaction against the cult of personality, the restrictions on portraiture, and the Socialist Realist imperatives. It was partly to avoid these restraints that she turned to ceramics, which allowed her greater freedom of expression. Within the Artists Union (UAP), which was formally led by Communist Party members and secretly surveyed by the Securitate, Radu coordinated members to produce resolutions which were always slightly left of centre, not quite toeing the ideological directive.

Radu is a devoutly Christian artist and was named a ‘mother of contemporary Christian art in Romania’. In her own words, “Europe has forgotten that Christ has risen”. Much of her work deals with Christian themes, including her famous statue of St George in Timisoara, but she does not follow the traditional canons of Orthodox Christian art. Unafraid of stylistic ambiguity, her many angels are unconventional and sometimes mischievous: in one exhibition, she even left an angel standing on a pedestrian crossing. Within this Christian vision of art, she unequivocally celebrates femininity. The female face and form plays an important role in her work and the titles of her pieces often include the word ‘woman’ (e.g. ‘Figure of Woman’, ‘Greek Woman with Vase’, ‘Bust of Woman’). She also depicts folk legends and portraits of the Romanian monarchy (e.g. King Michael, Princess Margareta).

While nearly all of Radu’s work in the Tyler Collection is in ceramic, she also works in gypsum, bronze and silver relief, stone, oil on canvas and pastel on cardboard. She has won a number of prizes, culminating with the Prometheus Opera Omnia award in 2003 recognising the careers of her and her husband, the sculptor Vasile Gorduz. She is friends with the conceptual artist Geta Bratescu, whom she introduced to Geoffrey Tyler, as she did with other artists such as Corneliu Petrescu.

As Christian artists, both Radu and Gorduz felt that a ‘fruit’ of their marriage, a project nurtured like children, was the setting up of a monastery near Patroaia, and a church on the Black Sea coast by the border with Bulgaria, built in Greek Byzantine style in local stone. The monastery was the location of the first village school in Wallachia in 1750, where children were taught Slavonic, Greek and Romanian; this school was reconstructed by Radu’s great-grandfather.

Despite having been one of the most prominent figures in Romanian art for the last 60 years, Radu thinks of herself not as “an artist, but a simple peasant”.


Entry authored by Dr Alex Popescu, Dec 2016

Geolocation

Collection

Citation

“Silvia Radu,” Tyler Collection of Romanian and Modern Art: University of Tasmania, accessed September 21, 2017, http://tylercollection.omeka.net/items/show/911.