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Geta Brătescu’s Portfolio

Geta Brătescu, whose career began in the 1960s and continues until today, is a pivotal figure in the history of post-war Romanian art. Working under the repressive political regime of Nicolae Ceauşescu for a large part of her career, Brătescu, developed a body of work that reflects the conditions of its production. Largely (though not wholly) isolated from the predominant dialogues shaping artistic practice in Western Europe and beyond, Brătescu and others of her generation worked with materials that were on hand to create a conceptually driven art in a range of mediums. My friend is the failure and glory of my generation, of those who might be called ‘post-war cavaliers’ ”, she wrote in 1985, “Cavaliers—albeit impure ones—of the gratuitous gesture. The gates closed too soon; we were cut off by Time. Time races on; we can’t catch it! But nonetheless, the larder of our hut is full of gold.”

First and foremost, the artist’s studio figures prominently into her work. In film and photographs this private space, used by Brătescu, for living and for working, becomes the stage for and subject of her investigations; she explores its physical parameters and the actions unfolding within. Though she eschews identification with Feminism, her work, particularly her performance-based practice, Medea drawings, and various self-portraits, exists within a larger historical nexus of progressive art that challenges dominant political and social ideology. “If I am a feminist,” she has said, “it is through obstinacy. This means I wink at whatever happens.” Brătescu, draws inspiration from the tradition of slapstick and especially the early films of Charlie Chaplin. Her art is infused with an unexpected humor and levity that further complicates and enriches our experience of it.

In recent years, there has been a surge of interest in Bratescu’s work which had been largely unknown but to select audiences. It is invigorating to witness, though there remains much to be done. The research on the artist’s oeuvre presented here in the form of portfolio was initiated on the occasion of C-MAP group trip to Romania in May 2012.

Enlarge an image to read a detailed description of each work.

Author

Paulina_pobocha

Paulina Pobocha

Assistant Curator, Department of Painting and Sculpture The Museum of Modern Art Paulina Pobocha is Assistant Curator in the Department of Painting and Sculpture at The Museum of Modern Art. During her time at MoMA, she has co-organized the exhibitions... Read more »
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Geta Brătescu’s Portfolio

Geta Brătescu, whose career began in the 1960s and continues until today, is a pivotal figure in the history of post-war Romanian art. Working under the repressive political regime of Nicolae Ceauşescu for a large part of her career, Brătescu, developed a body of work that reflects the conditions of its production. Largely (though not wholly) isolated from the predominant dialogues shaping artistic practice in Western Europe and beyond, Brătescu and others of her generation worked with materials that were on hand to create a conceptually driven art in a range of mediums. My friend is the failure and glory of my generation, of those who might be called ‘post-war cavaliers’ ”, she wrote in 1985, “Cavaliers—albeit impure ones—of the gratuitous gesture. The gates closed too soon; we were cut off by Time. Time races on; we can’t catch it! But nonetheless, the larder of our hut is full of gold.”

First and foremost, the artist’s studio figures prominently into her work. In film and photographs this private space, used by Brătescu, for living and for working, becomes the stage for and...

Show More

Geta Brătescu, whose career began in the 1960s and continues until today, is a pivotal figure in the history of post-war Romanian art. Working under the repressive political regime of Nicolae Ceauşescu for a large part of her career, Brătescu, developed a body of work that reflects the conditions of its production. Largely (though not wholly) isolated from the predominant dialogues shaping artistic practice in Western Europe and beyond, Brătescu and others of her generation worked with materials that were on hand to create a conceptually driven art in a range of mediums. My friend is the failure and glory of my generation, of those who might be called ‘post-war cavaliers’ ”, she wrote in 1985, “Cavaliers—albeit impure ones—of the gratuitous gesture. The gates closed too soon; we were cut off by Time. Time races on; we can’t catch it! But nonetheless, the larder of our hut is full of gold.”

First and foremost, the artist’s studio figures prominently into her work. In film and photographs this private space, used by Brătescu, for living and for working, becomes the stage for and subject of her investigations; she explores its physical parameters and the actions unfolding within. Though she eschews identification with Feminism, her work, particularly her performance-based practice, Medea drawings, and various self-portraits, exists within a larger historical nexus of progressive art that challenges dominant political and social ideology. “If I am a feminist,” she has said, “it is through obstinacy. This means I wink at whatever happens.” Brătescu, draws inspiration from the tradition of slapstick and especially the early films of Charlie Chaplin. Her art is infused with an unexpected humor and levity that further complicates and enriches our experience of it.

In recent years, there has been a surge of interest in Bratescu’s work which had been largely unknown but to select audiences. It is invigorating to witness, though there remains much to be done. The research on the artist’s oeuvre presented here in the form of portfolio was initiated on the occasion of C-MAP group trip to Romania in May 2012.

Enlarge an image to read a detailed description of each work.

     

Gb_towards_white

Towards White

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
Towards_white_slef_portrait_in_7_sequences_1975_

Towards White (Self-Portrait in Seven Sequences)

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
Pafnutie's_box

Pafnutie's Box

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
Gba_v_5_the_studio_1978

The Studio

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
_mg_4251

Portraits of Medea

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
_mg_4255

Portraits of Medea

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
_mg_4257

Portraits of Medea

Collection the artist. Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
_mg_4263

Portraits of Medea

Collection the artist. Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
_mg_4265

Portraits of Medea

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
_mg_4269

Portraits of Medea

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
Geta_bratescu_portraits_of_medea_1979_40_x_60_cm

Portraits of Medea

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
Geta_bratescu_portraits_of_medea_1979_lithograph

Portraits of Medea

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
Portraits_of_medea_litho

Portraits of Medea

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
Portraits_of_medea_lithograph

Portraits of Medea

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
The_studio_1978

The Studio

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava.
Atelierul_-_invocarea_desenului1979_vintage_photographs__tempera__guase__84_x_70_cm_

The Studio – Invocation of the Drawing

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
Portrait_of_medea_2_1980__colored_sewing_on_textile_90x60_cm

Medea's Hypostases II

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
Portrait_of_medea_7_1980__colored_sewing_on_textile_90x60_cm

Medea's Hypostases III

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
Portrait_of_medea_4_1980_colored_sewing_on_textile_90x60_cm

Medea's Hypostases VI

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
Portrait_of_medea_3_1980__colored_sewing_on_textile_90x60_cm

Medea's Hypostases VII

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
Portrait_of_medea_1_1980__colored_sewing_on_textile_90x60_cm_

Medea's Hypostases VIII

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
Portrait_of_medea_6_1980__colored_sewing_on_textile_90x60_cm

Medea's Hypostases IX

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
Medeic_callisthetic_moves_1__1980-81%e2%80%a8sewing_on_textiles_60_x_50_cm_low

Medeic Callisthetic Moves 1

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
Medeic_callisthetic_moves_2_1980-81_sewing_on_textiles_60_x_50_cm_low

Medeic Callisthetic Moves 2

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
Gb_towards_white

Towards White

Nine gelatin silver prints, mounted on paper, 20 x 20” (51 x 51 cm).

Towards White consists of nine black-and-white photographs documenting Brătescu shrouding a portion of her studio, and eventually her own body, in white paper. From one image to the next, as white accumulates, the darkness of the first photograph gives way to the light-reflecting brightness of the last. The quotidian verity of the studio becomes an aesthetic construction. This progressive transformation is dependent on the actions of the artist. She is shown in constant motion—stretching, pasting, wrapping, painting—until the final image, where, camouflaged beneath a layer of paint and a costume of paper, she stands absolutely still, subsumed by her surroundings into the fictive space of representation. Towards White captures the transition towards (in)visibility and stasis. Action converts to image, and actor to object.

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
Towards_white_slef_portrait_in_7_sequences_1975_

Towards White (Self-Portrait in Seven Sequences)

Seven gelatin silver prints, 2 3/4 x 16” (7 x 40.5cm).

In Towards White (Self-Portrait in Seven Sequences), Brătescu enacts a process of self-erasure. In the photographs, aligned horizontally from left to right, the artist’s bare face is progressively obscured by layers of translucent plastic until, in the final image, it is no longer visible. Once again, subject becomes object, an effect heightened by the artist’s use of plastic as the masking material. The third, fourth, and fifth images, which show Brătescu’s face pressed against the pliable plastic wrap, evoke asphyxiation; in images six and seven, the recognizable body dissolves into an abstraction of refracted light. This work and its eponymous partner elaborate the construction of an aesthetic representation. Composed of serial images, both works privilege temporality and duration, performance and process.

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
Pafnutie's_box

Pafnutie's Box

Wooden crate, textile objects, eight gelatin silver prints, 11 x 15 1/4 x 2 1/2” (28 x 38.5 x 6.5 cm).

This small wooden box housing a variety of objects appears in the second sequence of Brătescu’s film The Studio. The portion of the film called Awakening shows the artist against a backdrop of white paper performing a series of actions. She opens the box and extracts from it a small felt spiral, which she drops from a standing position and watches as it coils into itself. Brătescu then repeats the action. In the accompanying script, she describes in detail the box’s namesake, Pafnutie:

“An edition of Who’s Who that is not yet published should keep a record of Pafnutie; a monk situated on the lowest rung of the monastic hierarchy...Pafnutie doesn’t know how to pray; he is filthy and mute; all the thankless labor at the monastery is passed on to him, work is like breathing to him. At night he gathers his thoughts through another kind of labor: out of a heap of old cassocks, he sorts, cuts, sews, fastens, crimps, twists, braids. In other words, he tailors sorts of toys for no one.”

A character from Balkan mythology and fairy tales, Pafnutie in the context of Brătescu’s practice can be understood as an allegorical representation of an artist (one who also “tailors sorts of toys for no one”), particularly considering Romania’s censorious political climate, in which the most advanced art of the day went largely unseen.

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
Gba_v_5_the_studio_1978

The Studio

8mm film, 4:3 format (black and white, original), 17: 45 min.

The artist’s studio is a subject that is central to Brătescu’s practice. A concrete manifestation of her métier, it is a physical space delimited by four walls and defined as much by the objects it contains as the actions performed within it. In The Studio, a black-and-white film shot by her friend and fellow artist Ion Grigorescu, Brătescu posits the studio as an extension of herself, a space within which conventional binaries (subject/object, animate/inanimate) dissolve. Predicated on a script, the action of the film unfolds in three stages: Sleep, Awakening, and The Game. In each, an unexpected parity exists between the artist and her surroundings. In the first sequence, the artist is in deep slumber; so, too, are the studio and all of its contents. The second sequence finds her engaging several props in a series of actions within an area demarcated by the height of her body, a space Brătescu describes in the accompanying script as the “cube of awakening.” In that script she imbues presumably inert objects with agency: wooden blocks “gain their own rhythm” and a cloth spiral, described by Brătescu as “a wild beast, an odd reptile,” “manifests its personality in a different manner” each time it is dropped. In the final sequence, the artist enacts a Chaplinesque pantomime, at one point pulling her shirt over her head and flailing her arms until she loses her balance and falls to the floor. Headless, she transforms into an automaton, one “zoo-anthropomorphic” object among several others contained within the studio. The Studio is a self-portrait that insists on the reciprocity between the artist and her environment, where each constructs the other. Created at a time when many artists had long abandoned the studio in favor of working directly in the world, Brătescu’s film is also a cogent reminder of the political context in which it was made. Under Nicolae Ceaușescu’s repressive regime, artists’ studios were among the few places in Romania where free and presumably unmonitored expression was possible.

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
_mg_4251

Portraits of Medea

One from a portfolio of ten lithographs, each 23 5/8 x 15 3/4" (60 x 40 cm). Printer: Constantin Giuşcă, Bucharest. Collection the artist.

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
_mg_4255

Portraits of Medea

One from a portfolio of ten lithographs, each 23 5/8 x 15 3/4" (60 x 40 cm). Printer: Constantin Giuşcă, Bucharest. Collection the artist.

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
_mg_4257

Portraits of Medea

One from a portfolio of ten lithographs, each 23 5/8 x 15 3/4" (60 x 40 cm). Printer: Constantin Giuşcă, Bucharest.

Collection the artist. Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
_mg_4263

Portraits of Medea

One from a portfolio of ten lithographs, each 23 5/8 x 15 3/4" (60 x 40 cm). Printer: Constantin Giuşcă, Bucharest.

Collection the artist. Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
_mg_4265

Portraits of Medea

One from a portfolio of ten lithographs, each 23 5/8 x 15 3/4" (60 x 40 cm). Printer: Constantin Giuşcă, Bucharest. Collection the artist.

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
_mg_4269

Portraits of Medea

One from a portfolio of ten lithographs, each 23 5/8 x 15 3/4" (60 x 40 cm). Printer: Constantin Giuşcă, Bucharest. Collection the artist.

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
Geta_bratescu_portraits_of_medea_1979_40_x_60_cm

Portraits of Medea

One from a portfolio of ten lithographs, each 23 5/8 x 15 3/4" (60 x 40 cm). Printer: Constantin Giuşcă, Bucharest. Collection the artist.

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
Geta_bratescu_portraits_of_medea_1979_lithograph

Portraits of Medea

One from a portfolio of ten lithographs, each 23 5/8 x 15 3/4" (60 x 40 cm). Printer: Constantin Giuşcă, Bucharest. Collection the artist.

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
Portraits_of_medea_litho

Portraits of Medea

One from a portfolio of ten lithographs, each 23 5/8 x 15 3/4" (60 x 40 cm). Printer: Constantin Giuşcă, Bucharest. Collection the artist.

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
Portraits_of_medea_lithograph

Portraits of Medea

One from a portfolio of ten lithographs, each 23 5/8 x 15 3/4" (60 x 40 cm). Printer: Constantin Giuşcă, Bucharest. Collection the artist.

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
The_studio_1978

The Studio

Sixteen gelatin silver prints on paper 17 11/16 x 17 11/16" (45 x 45 cm).

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava.
Atelierul_-_invocarea_desenului1979_vintage_photographs__tempera__guase__84_x_70_cm_

The Studio – Invocation of the Drawing

Gelatin silver prints, tempera on paper, 33 1/16 x 27 9/16" (84 x 70 cm).

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
Portrait_of_medea_2_1980__colored_sewing_on_textile_90x60_cm

Medea's Hypostases II

Colored sewings on fabric, 35 1/2 x 23 5/8” (90 x 60 cm).

Medea’s Hypostases comprises ten sewn drawings and is the third of Brătescu’s four bodies of work centered on the mythological figure of Medea, a subject that first engaged the artist’s interest in 1978. Rather than illustrate the classical story or render the figure representationally, Brătescu presents an abstracted image of Medea distilled to her essence, as the title of this group suggests. Discussing the birth of the image, Brătescu explains: “I had drawn an island landscape with a tree seen from above—a lithograph project. I raised up the drawing to look at it—the drawing turned into a profile. I had just seen Medea, Passolini’s movie, hadn’t quite liked it.” Each of the ten textiles that make up Medea’s Hypostases features an ovoid form that changes slightly from one work to the next. Though Brătescu omits overt reference to narrative, the richness, intensity, and saturation of the colors build across the series to convey the story’s passions and tragedy.

Following a suite of drawings and lithographs, Medea’s Hypostases is the first of the Medea works to be executed in sewn cloth. The quaint, conventionally feminine, domestic craft seems strikingly ill-suited to representing the mad and murderous Medea. The brilliant complexity of the work arises in part from this very tension.

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
Portrait_of_medea_7_1980__colored_sewing_on_textile_90x60_cm

Medea's Hypostases III

Colored sewings on fabric, 35 1/2 x 23 5/8” (90 x 60 cm).

Medea’s Hypostases comprises ten sewn drawings and is the third of Brătescu’s four bodies of work centered on the mythological figure of Medea, a subject that first engaged the artist’s interest in 1978. Rather than illustrate the classical story or render the figure representationally, Brătescu presents an abstracted image of Medea distilled to her essence, as the title of this group suggests. Discussing the birth of the image, Brătescu explains: “I had drawn an island landscape with a tree seen from above—a lithograph project. I raised up the drawing to look at it—the drawing turned into a profile. I had just seen Medea, Passolini’s movie, hadn’t quite liked it.” Each of the ten textiles that make up Medea’s Hypostases features an ovoid form that changes slightly from one work to the next. Though Brătescu omits overt reference to narrative, the richness, intensity, and saturation of the colors build across the series to convey the story’s passions and tragedy.

Following a suite of drawings and lithographs, Medea’s Hypostases is the first of the Medea works to be executed in sewn cloth. The quaint, conventionally feminine, domestic craft seems strikingly ill-suited to representing the mad and murderous Medea. The brilliant complexity of the work arises in part from this very tension.

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
Portrait_of_medea_4_1980_colored_sewing_on_textile_90x60_cm

Medea's Hypostases VI

Colored sewings on fabric, 35 1/2 x 23 5/8” (90 x 60 cm).

Medea’s Hypostases comprises ten sewn drawings and is the third of Brătescu’s four bodies of work centered on the mythological figure of Medea, a subject that first engaged the artist’s interest in 1978. Rather than illustrate the classical story or render the figure representationally, Brătescu presents an abstracted image of Medea distilled to her essence, as the title of this group suggests. Discussing the birth of the image, Brătescu explains: “I had drawn an island landscape with a tree seen from above—a lithograph project. I raised up the drawing to look at it—the drawing turned into a profile. I had just seen Medea, Passolini’s movie, hadn’t quite liked it.” Each of the ten textiles that make up Medea’s Hypostases features an ovoid form that changes slightly from one work to the next. Though Brătescu omits overt reference to narrative, the richness, intensity, and saturation of the colors build across the series to convey the story’s passions and tragedy.

Following a suite of drawings and lithographs, Medea’s Hypostases is the first of the Medea works to be executed in sewn cloth. The quaint, conventionally feminine, domestic craft seems strikingly ill-suited to representing the mad and murderous Medea. The brilliant complexity of the work arises in part from this very tension.

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
Portrait_of_medea_3_1980__colored_sewing_on_textile_90x60_cm

Medea's Hypostases VII

Colored sewings on fabric, 35 1/2 x 23 5/8” (90 x 60 cm).

Medea’s Hypostases comprises ten sewn drawings and is the third of Brătescu’s four bodies of work centered on the mythological figure of Medea, a subject that first engaged the artist’s interest in 1978. Rather than illustrate the classical story or render the figure representationally, Brătescu presents an abstracted image of Medea distilled to her essence, as the title of this group suggests. Discussing the birth of the image, Brătescu explains: “I had drawn an island landscape with a tree seen from above—a lithograph project. I raised up the drawing to look at it—the drawing turned into a profile. I had just seen Medea, Passolini’s movie, hadn’t quite liked it.” Each of the ten textiles that make up Medea’s Hypostases features an ovoid form that changes slightly from one work to the next. Though Brătescu omits overt reference to narrative, the richness, intensity, and saturation of the colors build across the series to convey the story’s passions and tragedy.

Following a suite of drawings and lithographs, Medea’s Hypostases is the first of the Medea works to be executed in sewn cloth. The quaint, conventionally feminine, domestic craft seems strikingly ill-suited to representing the mad and murderous Medea. The brilliant complexity of the work arises in part from this very tension.

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
Portrait_of_medea_1_1980__colored_sewing_on_textile_90x60_cm_

Medea's Hypostases VIII

Colored sewings on fabric, 35 1/2 x 23 5/8” (90 x 60 cm).

Medea’s Hypostases comprises ten sewn drawings and is the third of Brătescu’s four bodies of work centered on the mythological figure of Medea, a subject that first engaged the artist’s interest in 1978. Rather than illustrate the classical story or render the figure representationally, Brătescu presents an abstracted image of Medea distilled to her essence, as the title of this group suggests. Discussing the birth of the image, Brătescu explains: “I had drawn an island landscape with a tree seen from above—a lithograph project. I raised up the drawing to look at it—the drawing turned into a profile. I had just seen Medea, Passolini’s movie, hadn’t quite liked it.” Each of the ten textiles that make up Medea’s Hypostases features an ovoid form that changes slightly from one work to the next. Though Brătescu omits overt reference to narrative, the richness, intensity, and saturation of the colors build across the series to convey the story’s passions and tragedy.

Following a suite of drawings and lithographs, Medea’s Hypostases is the first of the Medea works to be executed in sewn cloth. The quaint, conventionally feminine, domestic craft seems strikingly ill-suited to representing the mad and murderous Medea. The brilliant complexity of the work arises in part from this very tension.

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
Portrait_of_medea_6_1980__colored_sewing_on_textile_90x60_cm

Medea's Hypostases IX

Colored sewings on fabric, 35 1/2 x 23 5/8” (90 x 60 cm).

Medea’s Hypostases comprises ten sewn drawings and is the third of Brătescu’s four bodies of work centered on the mythological figure of Medea, a subject that first engaged the artist’s interest in 1978. Rather than illustrate the classical story or render the figure representationally, Brătescu presents an abstracted image of Medea distilled to her essence, as the title of this group suggests. Discussing the birth of the image, Brătescu explains: “I had drawn an island landscape with a tree seen from above—a lithograph project. I raised up the drawing to look at it—the drawing turned into a profile. I had just seen Medea, Passolini’s movie, hadn’t quite liked it.” Each of the ten textiles that make up Medea’s Hypostases features an ovoid form that changes slightly from one work to the next. Though Brătescu omits overt reference to narrative, the richness, intensity, and saturation of the colors build across the series to convey the story’s passions and tragedy.

Following a suite of drawings and lithographs, Medea’s Hypostases is the first of the Medea works to be executed in sewn cloth. The quaint, conventionally feminine, domestic craft seems strikingly ill-suited to representing the mad and murderous Medea. The brilliant complexity of the work arises in part from this very tension.

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
Medeic_callisthetic_moves_1__1980-81%e2%80%a8sewing_on_textiles_60_x_50_cm_low

Medeic Callisthetic Moves 1

Colored sewings on fabric, 23 5/8 x 20" (60 x 50 cm).

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava
Medeic_callisthetic_moves_2_1980-81_sewing_on_textiles_60_x_50_cm_low

Medeic Callisthetic Moves 2

Colored sewings on fabric, 23 5/8 x 20" (60 x 50 cm).

Courtesy of Ivan Gallery, Bucharest and Galerie Barbara Weiss, Berlin. Photograph: Stefan Sava