Gheorghe Saru



Gheorghe Saru



Birth Date




Death Date



artist, painter

Biographical Text

Gheorghe Saru was born in 1920 in Checea, Timis, in the south west of Romania. He graduated in Iasi first, then received his Masters of Fine Arts in 1948 at the Academy of Fine Arts, Bucharest; in 1963 he studied at the Academia di Belle Arti Pietro Vannuco, Perugia, Italy. He first exhibited during the Second World War, when Romanian painting was mainly narrative, confined within a restrictive environment for deep analysis and synthesis.

At a time when travel outside, and even within, the Iron Curtain was beyond the reach of most people, his works were exhibited in Mexico, France, Spain, Portugal, England, Italy, Switzerland, USA, Denmark, West Germany, Belgium, Holland, Luxemburg, Sweden, Norway, Hungary, Czechoslovakia, USSR and other countries. He was invited to live and paint abroad twice, first in 1965 in Mexico, then in 1983 in the United States.

As a student of the artist Jean Al. Steriade, Saru envisaged a modern synthesis of motifs from Romanian folk art, which rejected the pleasant picturesque in favour of a balanced construction. From the sixties onwards he explored experimental and abstract avenues, but remained faithful to the ideas of his youth, dominated by an acute sense of logical construction and complex compositions.

His work illustrates the transition from traditional figurative art - with its emphasis on a descriptive, almost narrative style of representation - to non-figurative, even abstract, art in which tradition was no longer a landmark.

Saru’s meticulous approach to line and colour is similar to that of a portrait painter. He animates geometric constructions and transforms the figurative quality of Romanian folk art by simplifying his forms, shapes and lines. His careful focus on the ordering of space balances both the visible forms and the anticipatory invisible ones with full control. His pictures are not picturesque, although, in spite of their complex composition, rigorous forms and colours the subjects are recognisable by their stylized vegetal elements (i.e. leaves, stems, corollas), e.g. Flori (‘Flowers’).

After his trip to Mexico in 1965, when Saru was exposed to Inca and Aztec cultures, his work began to combine elements of Romanian folk and Aztec art. However, his Mexican influences were downplayed by art critics, reflecting a need to promote Romanian nationalism instead and conform to establishment regulation: it was desirable for an artist like Saru to be presented as a national artist, not merely anchored in material reality but also in his national identity.

He spent the last 20 years of his life in the United States, where he painted up to his last days even though he was declared legally blind. He also worked alongside his wife Liana on a notable work, ‘Monumental Tapestry’. Saru died in 2003, having been planning to return to Romania. His later paintings reflect an inner world emerging from his approach to the reality behind the reality.

Entry authored by Dr Alex Popescu, Dec 2016




“Gheorghe Saru,” Tyler Collection of Romanian and Modern Art: University of Tasmania, accessed December 4, 2022,