Georges (Gheorghe) Mazilu
Georges Mazilu is today better known in France and the United States than in Romania, where he spent the first 30 years of his life. He was born in 1951, in Vanjulet, Mehendinti County. He had his first drawing lessons with Vasile Mihaescu in Drobeta-Turnu-Severin as a teenager. He then studied at the Nicolae Tonitza Fine Arts School in Bucharest, before graduating from the Nicolae Grigorescu Institute of Fine Arts in 1974. In 1981, while working in Romania, Mazilu exhibited abstract paintings at Galeria Simeza (where in 1981 Geoffrey Tyler bought ‘Squared Landscape’, the only Mazilu work in the Tyler Collection).
The money from this exhibition allowed him to acquire enough foreign exchange to apply for a passport and emigrate to France, where in 1982 he became a permanent resident. His first year in Paris was one of self-doubt, during which he did not paint. He later began figurative drawing and painting, which gave him a sense of freedom which he felt abstract art could not offer.
Mazilu’s work is mostly exhibited in France, the US, Canada and Holland, and is represented in museums and private collections. From 1993 he has shown at the Turner Carroll Gallery in Santa Fe, New Mexico; his first exhibition took place there in 1993 and was entitled ‘A Decade of Questioning: 1983-1993’. He held a retrospective exhibition in 1999, entitled ‘The End of an Era: Eastern European Paintings from the Fall of Communism to the Year 2000’.
His artworks are dominated by contrasts, and appear to be influenced by Flemish and Dutch art and Italian Renaissance (Bosch, Breugel, Caravaggio, Leonardo da Vinci).His characters combine anthropomorphic and supernatural elements; some of them seem improbable and abstract, but human faces predominate. There are also mechanical and dead components. His sense of colour vibrates through complementarity and chiaroscuro.
After living for 30 years in Paris, he now lives in the countryside near Nevers.
“Under Ceausescu’s regime existence appeared to be absurd and without any perspective, so I left the country without hesitations or regrets, as soon as I fulfilled the necessary conditions to get a passport. In my case, as I didn’t have relatives in the West, I needed some foreign currency in a bank, which I obtained by selling a few artworks in an exhibition in 1981. From the beginning I rejected the idea of returning [to Romania] because a possible change of regime looked pure fantasy at the time. Now, from time to time and with pleasure, I visit Romania where I have a few friends, but I am not tempted to return permanently.” (Georges Mazilu, interview in Timpul, Iasi, 28th April 2016)
Entry authored by Dr Alex Popescu, Dec 2016