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tefan Arteni and Myriam Snchez Posada de Arteni in conversation with Mugura Maria Petrescu OCTOBER 29, 2011

Stefan Arteni, A circle fits not with a square design, a verse from Li Sao (Encountering Sorrow), a poem about exile composed by Qu Yuan, Art of Ink Exhibition, Chiang Mai University (CMU), Thailand, November 8 -27, 2011

Poster for Sign of The Logos, Artists Books and Related Materials, A Retrospective Exhibition of Sol Invictus Press (November 19, 1998 - April 16, 1999), St. Mark's Library, The General Theological Seminary, New York (curated by Isaac Gewirtz)


In New York I had the great joy to get acquainted with the painter tefan Arteni and his wife Myriam Snchez Posada de Arteni, a family of artists who graciously spared some of their time to answer a few questions, a time which, although it seemed far too short, was filled with wonder and beauty. 1) Mugura Maria Petrescu. Mr. tefan Arteni, you are an artist known worldwide. However, much less is known about you in Romania. But, as the Lords thoughts and

plans are unfathomable, I have now the pleasure of meeting you, of making your acquaintance through the intercession of my teacher of English at the University Al. I Cuza - Iassy, Professor Sorin Prvu, with whom (so to speak) I plotted and planned this interview. tefan Arteni. Heartfelt thanks for giving us the opportunity to say a few words about four decades of activity dedicated to art, particularly to painting. The death of painting has been proclaimed time and time again. Tradition and craftsmanship seem to have become useless encumbrances. However, let us recall Heideggerss words: what is useless can still be a force and perhaps the only one. 2) MMP. Your artistic work has several aspects. 1) Painting - and here we are dealing with two major branches, a) Sino-Japanese calligraphy and Kana and b) secular and religious paintings. 2) You are also an essayist and translator. How do you manage to combine these artistic activities that are so diverse in terms of expression? tefan Arteni. Painting and calligraphy are forms of prayer. In the Far East they are viewed as a way of meditation. A Japanese will sign a calligraphy work: [name] painted this. Zographer, zographos in Greek, means writing things that have life. Painting and/or calligraphy may be thought of as a play with formal domains, the iconography having been prescribed by the various traditions. One may speak of a personal process, a process which is both visual and tactile. Our friend Magda U. (the writer Magda Ursache) said it beautifully: having eyes on the tips of the fingers. Art is paradoxical in the sense that full freedom may be attained only by accepting and mastering rules, conventions and constraints. What could be more revolutionary today than a fresh encounter with tradition? My essays, usually richly illustrated or purely visual, are another way of exploring form. I have tried to translate a few verses, perhaps because in some way they seemed to pertinently refer to my wanderings. Here is a haiku by Ion Pillat: With gods about I've roamed, solely menwards back to come. A few verses by Adrian Maniu: Ultimate dream The path will descend Straight and so weightless Toward the abyss. Or a poem by Eugenio Montale:

If you will beckon, in graylike Open tremble corrupted All vestiges That the void does not swallow. Annulled is thence gesture, All voices fall silent, Returns to its wellspring The barren existence. 3) MMP. You left Romania 40 years ago (on August 2, 2011 you have marked this period of time). Can you tell us what happened then? What exactly led you to leave Romania? In fact, what was, specifically, your rapport with the system? tefan Arteni. Researchers have long ago demonstrated that only those who are a little crazy are able to prevail against prolonged brainwashing. Consequently, one of my calligraphy names is the crazy hermit, Kyosen in Japanese. The seal below reads crazy hermits writing:

4) MMP. What did you do after you left the country? tefan Arteni. I settled for a few years in Italy where, of course, I enrolled in the Academy of Fine Arts, and also thoroughly explored Italian painting: Pompeii and Rome, Venice, Assisi and Florence. Myriam de Arteni. A few years later, we both went on a pilgrimage to the temples of Western Art: Madrid (to see the works of Velazquez, the painters painter), Toledo (for an encounter with El Greco, another exiled painter, as stated by Vintil Horia), Paris, the Netherlands, London. 5) MMP. 1971 finds you in Rome, a very beautiful city full of history, civilization, culture and romance. That is the year you met Miss. Myriam Snchez Posada? tefan Arteni. We met at the Accademia di Belle Arti, Rome, on November 15, 1971, the day the courses started. We have been inseparable ever since. Together we wandered into the labyrinth of art. 6) MMP. At that time you were editor at the Vatican Radio, where you have realized countless broadcasts, and you have also published papers on various aspects of art history, preparation of artists materials and techniques of painting. tefan Arteni. I worked for a few years at the Romanian Section of the Vatican Radio. Let me use this opportunity to express my gratitude to the redactor in chief, monsignor Flaviu Popan, who perished in tragic circumstances, for all his teachings and first of all for explaining the arcana of hesychasm. Myriam and I published some of the results of our research on materials and techniques of painting. Our investigations were initially presented in the form of scientific papers at various international conferences. We pursued this undertaking also later, in the U.S.A. Today, many of these papers are being used in European teaching institutions. We enjoyed the support and advice of luminaries in this field: Marc Havel, technical director of Lefranc & Bourgeois, who had collaborated with Jacques Maroger; Hans Gert Mueller, technical director of Lukas Kuenstlerfarben, Duesseldorf, who was also the editor of the new and updated editions of Max Doerners book; and last but not least, Roelof Roelofs, who visited us in Rome and whose factory we visited in Scheveningen, son of Albert Roelofs, the Dutch painter who had founded Oudt Hollandse Olieverwenmakerij. 7) MMP. You have lectured and demonstrated Japanese, Greek, Sanskrit calligraphy and you have won international awards. tefan Arteni. The most significant ones were the two grand prizes for calligraphy awarded me by the Foreign Affairs Ministry of Japan in 1996 and 2005, the 2005 prize granted almost contemporaneously with the rank of shihan (master) being conferred on me by the Japan Calligraphy Art Association.

Yusho Ten, Tokyo-Geijyutu-Gekijyo, Tokyo, Japan, 2004. Left and centre: two monotypes now in the collection of Professor Tanaka Setsuzan; right: the examination calligraphy work for the rank of shihan.

Art Endures Forever (four Chinese characters in seal script form)

The lecture-demonstrations discuss the common origin of writing and painting as well as the meditation aspect of these activities, and also examine the various facets of the science of art in the context of evolutionary game theory, logic of distinctions, cybernetics and polycontexturality. What should be the purpose of that kind of activity we today call art? Is there a science of art? The mathematical methods of game theory and especially of evolutionary game theory have already elucidated the formation of cultural spaces, to use the term introduced by Lucian Blaga, and, implicitly, of conventions. Similarly, game theory explained the appearance of graphical conventions and their role in facilitating communication. A cultural space or an artistic tradition may be conceived metaphorically, visually, as an interwoven whole, as a contexture, like, for example, a Romanian rug, with all its formal simplicity or intricacy, with all the traditional and/or appropriated elements constituting the composition. The interplay of contextures, the passage, transition, conversion from a contexture to another or, in short: polycontexturality, will emerge as a possibility. In his Laws of Form, a book influenced by Indian thought, the mathematician George Spencer Brown outlines a theory of distinctions and/or a calculus of form and demonstrates that the reason why things seem to have sense has to do not with changes at the level of the content, but with changes at the level of form. His work has become a source of inspiration for a variety of fields: art, sociology, cybernetics. And cybernetics may be described as the art of steering between potentialities and constraints. We now find ourselves in a universe where the simple act of drawing a distinction creates something from nothing. Subsequent operations are necessary although they may appear fortuitous. Here, perspectives, systems of proportions, and so forth, find their place. And the whole folds upon itself, it refers to itself. 8) MMP. You have started school in Bucharest, then you have continued your studies in Rome and New York. You have attended courses in architecture, art history, mural painting, restoration and conservation of historical monuments, you speak several languages fluently, you translate, write books. Tell me please, how were you able to achieve such feats? tefan Arteni. I do not think that one may speak of some kind of exploits. It was just my family providing me with an education based on the pre-war schooling model. I also had the good fortune of having outstanding teachers: firstly, the private instructors; secondly, an unforgettable elementary schoolteacher; thirdly, my professors at the Nicolae Tonitza high school and at the Ion Mincu Institute of Architecture. I recall with affection and respect two wonderful teachers I had at the Nicolae Tonitza high school: Nicolae Butnaru (sketching or croquis course) and Vasile Brtulescu. Later in New York, I studied microscopy and the methods for identifying pigments with Walter McCrone, one of the foremost experts in this field, at the Conservation Center of the Institute of Fine Arts.

Of paramount importance has been the encounter with the calligraphic work of Kamijo Shinzan and, subsequently, with the work of his successor as president of the Japan Calligraphy Art Association, professor Tanaka Setsuzan, one of the greatest Japanese calligraphers, the teacher who will guide my studies. The master-apprentice model worked very well for centuries. The Japanese word shodo means "the way of writing": respect the tradition, master it and find your way within it. Apprenticeship means selfdiscipline, daily practice and a rigorous spiritual askesis. Waying the way transforms the wayfarer. According to ancient custom, upon my promotion to the rank of master, professor Tanaka Setsuzan gave me a new calligraphy name: Art Mountain (Geizan in Japanese).

Seal carved with the name Geizan

9) MMP. In 1991 you founded together with Mrs. Myriam Snchez Posada de Arteni, Sol Invictus Press. What is Sol Invictus Press and how and why was it set up? tefan Arteni. Sol Invictus Press [sol invictus, means the invincible sun, the last Roman god before the christianization of the empire] is our small artisanal publishing house or small press, founded contemporaneously with our first artists book, Laudes Creaturarum, the poem of St Francisc of Assisi. The image on the seal of the press and its name were inspired by a carved wooden spoon: the sun and the horses drawing its carriage across the skies. Artists books imply turning ones gaze towards the past, towards a time when books were also art objects.

One of the seals of Sol Invictus Press 10) MMP. Mrs. Myriam Snchez Posada de Arteni, the woman beside you, gentle and loving, your life-long partner, your soul mate. One does not have to know her closely to realize that beauty, refinement and kindness light not only her face but her soul. Mrs. Myriam Snchez Posada de Artenis wide friendly eyes seem to have candidly discovered things anew and to inspect them with eagerness and joy. Such qualities meet in an artists

soul as a matter of course, for Mrs. Myriam Snchez Posada de Arteni, scion of an aristocratic Colombian family, is a respected artist and has won numerous international awards. How does such a team of artists function for it is known that artists, especially those working in the same field, tend to be quite exigent with each others work? How will the mystery and excellence of Mrs. de Artenis art be translated into the manufacturing of Coptic bindings or into mastering the secrets of Western codices?

Senior Exhibitions Conservator Myriam Snchez Posada de Arteni working in the Barbara Goldsmith Preservation Division of The New York Public Library

Myriam de Arteni. The process of creating our artists books follows the scriptoria model and the practice of ancient anonymous craftsmen. We creatively share ideas and/or suggestions and combine our individual skills. In Rome I attended not only the Accademia di Belle Arti but also the Istituto Centrale di Restauro and the Alfonso Gallo Institute for Book Restoration, I studied at the State Achives and attended the UNESCOICCROM program. A few years later I took the course on pigment identification at the New York Institute of Fine Arts as well as the course on the restoration of photographs at the Rochester Institute of Technology. At the same time, I selected the field of bookbinding for specialized study, becoming versed in the different ways books can be constructed, from Roman wax tablets to Coptic bindings, or from Medieval procedures to Oriental practices. A Mallarm poem deserves a befitting codex format, while for a short poem or for Far Eastern poetry the accordion format seems more adequate.

Left: papyrus scroll-book; centre: Roman wax tablets; right: parchment scroll book (reconstructions realized by Myriam Snchez Posada de Arteni)

Coda (poem by Daniel Simko), 1997

Cantique de Saint Jean (poem by Stphane Mallarm), 1996

tefan Arteni. Regarding Myriams concept for the wrapper of our first book, the curator of the retrospective dedicated to Sol Invictus Press, Isaac Gewirtz, commented as follows : Her playfully dramatic sense of design is evident in the five-paneled folding front for the wrapper of Laudes Creaturarum . The ink-and-brush symbol of the Chrismon (a circle containing the Greek initials of Jesus Christ, I X) on the wrapper front, which closes in two facing panels, opens upon an Ichthys (a fish within a circle). The folding panels themselves become a metaphor for revelation.

Wrapper for Laudes Creaturarum, 1992

11) MMP. On October 21, 2011, at the launch of the art album dedicated to Constantin Antonovici we met at the Romanian Cultural Institute in New York. I participated in the round-table and spoke about a very important aspect of the work of the great sculptor: the owl and what it symbolizes. I know now that Mrs. Myriam Snchez Posada de Arteni is working on an artists book whose subject is also the owl. What would be the reason for the owls reappearance? Myriam de Arteni. Athena Glaukopis (owl-like gleaming-eyed), the owl painted on the portico of the Horezu town church, the neolithic owls or the owl of Americas precolombian cultures were upheld as symbols of perspicacity and erudition. Hurezi monastery took its name from the owls huhurezi in Romanian - who used to dwell in the area. While we were working on our first book, Laudes Creaturarum, the owl appeared almost at once. It found a place also in my husbands mural project dedicated to Orpheus. Athena and the bird which sees well in the night accompanied and guarded Ulysses in his exile. This is why the owl is also present in our book The Return of Ulysses, based on Radu Gyrs poem. It seems that the owl takes under her wings artists and wanderers. The owl story will appear in Spanish and English, may be also in Romanian. Below are a few paragraphs from the first pages of the book:

Hoplaaaaa, buenas noches para todos! Sean todos bienvenidos a mi modesto relato en una noche cuando el silenci reina en el bosque porque los espritus acongojados deambulan por ah. Y as, de algn modo empezaba todo, all por el mes de Junio, de no recuerdo qu ao cuando los sueos se hacen realidad si se piden con mucho deseo, en donde la magia no se esfuma La llegada de las vacaciones de mitad de ao era para m y mis hermanas sinnima de felicidad. Toda la familia incluyendo hermanos, tos y primos viajamos a encontrarnos en el rbol de los abuelos, el rbol de los recuerdos como yo lo llamo. Hoplaaa, to all a good evening! You are all welcome to my unpretentious storytelling And so, it all began somehow, over there, during the month of June of I do not recall what yearin a time when dreams come true if the yearning is strong, in a place where the enchantment does not fade away The arrival of summer vacations was for me and for my brethren synonymous with happiness. The entire family, including brethren, uncles and cousins, traveled to our meeting in the tree of the grandparents, which I used to call the tree of remembrances.

A digital composition which will illustrate the book

March 17, 2011: Caring for Colombia foundation honored Myriam Snchez Posada de Arteni for her lifetime contribution to the arts. Photo Herb Scher. 12) MMP. You are one of the very few artists, if not the only one, who lives in the West and has mastered the art of seal cutting. tefan Arteni. In the Far East, seal carving is one of the arts that had to be mastered by the literati. The knives used for carving are called iron brushes. It is usually a miniaturistic art although seals may also be of larger sizes up to the so-called carved calligraphy. My seals have been favorably compared to those carved by Qi Baishi, the great Chinese painter and calligrapher.

These rules are no rules and therefore they are my rules.

Anastasis (Harrowing of Hell) 13) MMP. While reading through your biography and about your work, I came across the statement art is the artist ". How do you relate to this assertion? tefan Arteni. You may be thinking of Heideggers word play, of his formulaic statement: The artist is the origin of the work. The work is the origin of the artist...a third thing is prior to both- art. The statement underscores the feedback loop between art, artist and artwork. The statement may be abbreviated. S.J.Schmidt says: Art constructs art. We are now in the domain of radical constructivism. Schmidts statement refers to an experience that every true painter should have had. It is said that Correggio, standing before some great masterpiece, exclaimed: Anch' io son' pittore! ("I too, am a painter!".) Since early childhood I have seen works by Pallady, Petracu, Tonitza, Henri Catargi, Dumitru Ghia, in collections and in museum. I said to myself: yes, I am a painter also. 14) MMP. Tell us please about the books based on carved stone seals, and the technique of working with a bamboo pen. tefan Arteni. There was a game played by Chinese literati which consisted of composing impromptu poems, each participant taking his turn to write a classical verse. I selected verses from various Chinese paintings, usually composed by the painter himself. The verses have five or seven characters. Once carved in soapstone, they were printed, thus creating a new poem composed of classical citations, a poem which, at the same time, has a visual presence. The bamboo pen is a Far Eastern tool used for drawing. It produces interesting results in calligraphy also. Below is the text of the English translation of our book, Casual Writings By A Window, 1995 (in the book the Chinese verses appear both in the form of seal script impressed with red seal paste and in the form of semicursive script executed with the bamboo pen):

Below is an example of the bamboo pen having been used both for drawing and for calligraphy (maquette for the Prayer of Jesus albums):

15) MMP. This takes us back to the beginning of our talk where I mentioned that your work also includes the religious facet, which is treated in a manner dissimilar from what the common man is accustomed to seeing (such as, for example, the Icons in churches). Your religious paintings, in my opinion, have something of the unseeable and ineffable yearning to touch divinity, to draw nearer to it. Your painting is neither direct nor invasive, it is explicitly implicit and enveloping. Looking at a work makes one feel like part of the work, of its spellbinding warmth. tefan Arteni. What does it mean for a painting to be religious? Is it only the content that counts? What about the numberless biblical stories which decorate the walls of many museums and churches and which do not seem al all spiritual? Perhaps an abstract painting by Poliakoff or a still life by Morandi might be perceived as religious, in the wide sense of the term. Professor Tanaka Setsuzan once said: The Gods speak through the marks drawn by the artist. Western iconographic tradition and zographers handbooks describe all that is needed for a subject to be defined as biblical. The questions I asked myself, the questions to which I tried to find answers by means of a few paintings, were connected to form. This is the reason why I created elaborate compositions, the Magi series, with numerous figures and with allusions to rhetoric, after the example of Botticelli or Ghirlandaio. In the same way I painted Icons using traditional Far Eastern techniques, thus creating what I like to call

Zen Icons. The Icons in oil, which are almost abstract, are an exercise in the use of complementary colors. The Icon of St Luke, the painters patron saint, is built on a redgreen plus white and black harmony, with a passage into the yellow-violet gamut. It is a fact that in Far Eastern calligraphy as well as in Icon painting, in zographia, the text or image are, as a rule, very familiar to the viewers, so that even a lot of formal manipulations will not make them unrecognizable.

St Luke

Below is an example selected from one the albums dedicated to the Prayer of Jesus, The Myrrh-bearing Women at the Grave, collage and ink on paper:

In like manner, I explored the domain of the sophisticated allegories in vogue among the Mannerist painters, which I painted using monotype procedures based on the techniques of Zen calligraphy. Starting from the potentialities and limitations of a formal system and/or a technique, I produced other series also, the Bacchanals, Warriors and Legends series, as well as the digital variations on the theme of the Orphic Mioritza. 16) MMP. Let us consider, within the frame of reference of religious painting and of symbols, a text by Mircea Eliade: seeing signs, hidden meanings, symbols, in the sufferings, the depressions, the dry periods of everyday life. Seeing them and reading them even if they aren't there; if one sees them, one can build a structure and read a message in the formless flow of things and the monotonous flux of historical facts.

tefan Arten. Eliade himself seems to suggest that signs exist only for those who wish to discover signs and significations. Critics, art historians, philosophers, semioticians, stop at the figurative image and try to read it. There are, however, empty signs, whose initial significations have been forgotten long ago although the signs as form have survived in the repertory of artists studios. I would commend to your attention the saying of a Balkanic writer, Danilo Ki: Form as possibility of choice, form that is an attempt to locate points of fulcrumin the chaos around us. Nearer to our own time, Niklas Luhmann insightfully wrote: "Symbols are forms of self-reference using the selfreference of form". During the iconoclastic controversy, the fathers of the church uttered a truth that should have been self-evident, a truth later uttered also by Andr Lhote, the teacher of many Romanian painters: the painted image is a formal equivalent (quivalent plastique in French, from the words plastikos, plassein, which mean to give form), a few lines and daubs applied to a surface. Accordingly, fine art, art plastique in French and art plastic in Romanian, means, in the strictest sense, the art of form. Content, subject, theme, are secondary elements.

Reproduced above is a painting I titled The Meaning of Meaning. It began with a collage sketch, a few randomly assembled cut-outs from periodicals. It is only a play with form.

The Annunciation is an exercise in the use of two colors plus white and black over the red ochre ground popular in El Grecos time. The ground intensifies the colors applied over it.

Working on the Orpheus mural project

The work reproduced above is a technical experiment meant to determine whether the characteristic effects of a monotype on paper can also be achieved by painting in oil on canvas. Curators always insist on a title. So I named the work Cai Verzi Pe Perei (a Romanian colloquialism meaning to have an impossible dream; the literal translation is Green Horses on The Wall hence the title: Composition with Green Horsemen).

17) MMP. Your artistic personality has pushed you to write books and essays on visual semiotics, of modern painting, on church architecture and painting in Romania, Macedonia, Greece and Cyprus. tefan Arteni. My essays and ebooks are, for the most part, attempts at exploring painting traditions with help from the internet where countless travelers have posted fine photographs. I would like to thank them all, especially all those responsible for photographing the innumerable Romanian wood churches. Lately I have been focusing on Byzantine tradition. There are times when I may even succeed in reconstructing the entire painting decoration of a small church. A few hundred images referring to the byzantine-mioritic visual semiosphere, or to Macedonia and Greece, instantly reveal the amazing variety of this style, both horizontally, from people to people (yes, there is such a thing as national specificity!) and vertically, chronologically, that is the changes of style and the appropriation of western formal solutions adapted to local tradition. With regard to Romania, a few names emerge from the fog of anonymity, names of zographers whose works are no less masterful than the paintings of their more famous Western rivals. I will enumerate only a few: Drago Coman at Arbore, Toma from Suceava at Humor, Sofronie and Ion at Sucevia, Mihnea (zographer for Michael the Brave), Prvu Mutu (zographer of the Cantacuzino family), Ilie from Teiu. Variations on the theme of form, building form from form, complexity of polyphonic compositions, skillful use of consonant, assonant and dissonant color gamuts, are the salient features of this tradition, features which later will constitute the foundations of the work of Pallady, Tonitza, Petracu, and Ghia. 18) MMP. Let us now go back to the subject of Romania. For how long have you not been back? tefan Arten. Since 1971. 19) MMP. Would you like to see Romania again? tefan Arteni. Ithaca, my Ithaca, has given me the solid foundation which always allowed me to be proud of being an offspring of the mioritic space. Ithaca, my Ithaca, has given me the gift of a wondrous wandering. Maybe one day I will behold it once more. Radu Gyr has said: the true defeat is/to forsake ones dreams. 20) MMP. What future projects are on the horizon? tefan Arteni. We intend to complete a few book projects already in the maquette stage: the book about light, a book dedicated to one of Daniel Simkos poem (a Slovak poet and friend who unfortunately passed away too soon), the owl story and a few others. A project nearly two decades in the making will hopefully see the day: a church dedicated to the Theotokos of the Life-Giving Spring.

21) MMP. We conclude with a question that always arises in such cases. From America, the coveted dream of many Romanians, from New York where you have spent almost a lifetime, is there any message you would like to impart to Romania and to all Romanians? tefan Arten. My generation was a generation sacrificed, wasted in the swirling vortex of history. I would like to speak to the young ones, to those who, may be, will become the founders of tomorrows Romania. It is said that at Delphi, next to the famous maxim Know thyself, there was another one: Be who you are. Yes, be who you are! Do not forget that Europe originated over there, in the balkan - mioritic mountains, valleys and meadows. MMP. Thank you. Mugura Maria Petrescu

East and West. Allegories, Kobe Art Hall, Kobe, Japan, 1997

Sign of The Logos, Artists Books and Related Materials, A Retrospective Exhibition of Sol Invictus Press (November 19, 1998 - April 16, 1999) , St. Mark's Library, The General Theological Seminary, New York

Scroll Fragments, Kobe Art Hall, Kobe, Japan, March 17 -23, 1999

The Way of Form retrospective exhibition, December 2005 March 2006, QCC ART GALLERY The City University of New York

Stefan Arteni on the internet

Selections of Artenis works:

Bibliographies listing scientific papers: EDV Katalog - Kunsthistorisches Institut in Florenz, Max-Planck-Institut ; ; base Castor

Artenis ebooks, essays, illustrated books:


La New York am avut plcerea de a face cunotin cu pictorul tefan Arteni i soia acestuia Myriam Snchez Posada de Arteni, o familie de artiti, care mi-au druit cu bucurie i generozitate sufleteasc un timp scurt dar ncrcat de frumos. Mugura Maria Petrescu: Dle. tefan Arteni, suntei un artist cunoscut n toat lumea. Cu toate acestea, mai puine se tiu despre Dvs. n Romnia. Dar cum gndurile i planurile lui Dumnezeu sunt nebnuite pentru oameni, iat c i eu acum am onoarea s v ntlnesc, s v cunosc prin intermediul profesorului meu de limb englez de la Universitatea Al. I Cuza - Iai, Dl. Profesor Universitar Dr. Sorin Prvu, cu care (ca s spunem aa) am ,,complotat acest interviu i s stau de vorb cu Dvs. tefan Arteni: V mulumim c ne dai ocazia de a spune cteva cuvinte despre patru decenii de activitate dedicate artei i n special picturii.

Moartea picturii a fost proclamat de mult vreme. Tradiia, meteugul, par a fi devenit poveri inutile. Dar s ne amintim de cuvintele lui Heidegger: ,,Ceea ce este inutil mai poate nc fi o for, poate singura for. M. M. P.: Activitatea Dvs. artistic are mai multe aspecte. 1) Pictura i aici avem de-a face cu dou ramificaii importante, a) caligrafia cu caractere chino-japoneze, scrisul legat Kana i b) pictura profan i religioas. 2) Suntei eseist, traductor. Cum reuii s mbinai aceste activiti artistice care sunt att de deosebite din punctul de vedere al exprimrii? . A.: Pictura i/sau caligrafia sunt rugciune. n Extremul Orient sunt considerate un proces de meditaie. Un japonez va semna o caligrafie: ,,(numele) a pictat. Zugrav, zographos n limba greac, nseamn ,,cel care scrie cele vii. Pictura i/sau caligrafia pot fi vzute ca un joc cu domeniile formale, iconografia fiind pre-scris de diferitele tradiii. Este vorba, din nou, de un proces personal, un proces vizual i tactil. Prietena Magda U. (scriitoarea Magda Ursache) a spus-o mult mai frumos: ,,cu ochi n vrful degetelor. Paradoxul artei plastice consist n faptul c numai prin acceptarea i stpnirea regulilor, a conveniilor i a constrngerilor, se poate atinge libertatea deplin de a picta. Ce poate fi oare mai revoluionar astzi dect o rentlnire cu tradiia? Eseurile, de obicei ilustrate bogat sau exclusiv vizuale, sunt alt mod de a explora diversele aspecte ale formei. M-am ncumetat s ncerc s traduc cteva versuri, poate pentru c mi s-au prut potrivite peregrinrilor mele. Iat un haiku al lui Ion Pillat: With gods about I've roamed, solely /menwards back to come. i cteva versuri de Adrian Maniu: Ultimate dream /The path will descend /Straight and so weightless /Toward the abyss. Sau versurile lui Eugenio Montale: If you will beckon, in graylike /Open tremble corrupted /All vestiges /That the void does not swallow./Annulled is thence gesture, /All voices fall silent, /Returns to its wellspring /The barren existence. M. M. P.: Ai prsit Romnia exact acum 40 de ani (pe 2 august 2011 ai marcat aceast perioad de timp). Ne putei spune ce s-a ntmplat atunci? Ce anume exact v-a determinat s plecai din Romnia? De fapt, care era, mai exact, raportul Dvs. cu sistemul de atunci? . A.: Cercettorii au determinat de mult c singurii care pot rezista unei splri ndelungate a creierului sunt cei care sunt puin smintii. Iat de ce unul dintre numele mele de caligraf, Kyosen n limba japonez, nseamn pustnicul icnit. Sigiliul de mai jos ar putea fi tradus: icnitul pustnic a scris.

M. M. P.: Ce ai fcut dup ce ai prsit ara? . A.: M-am stabilit pentru civa ani n Italia unde, bineneles, m-am nscris la Accademia di Belle Arti. Am cercetat marea pictur italian: Pompei i Roma, Veneia, Assisi i Florena. Myriam de Arteni: Civa ani mai trziu am pornit mpreun ntr-un ,,pelerinaj la ,,templele artei occidentale: Madrid (pentru a vedea operele ,,pictorului pictorilor: Velazquez) i Toledo (pentru o ntlnire cu El Greco, un alt ,,exilat, cum a scris Vintil Horia), Paris, muzeele Olandei, Londra. M. M. P.: 1971 v gsete la Roma, un ora deosebit de frumos ncrcat de istorie, civilizaie, cultur i romantism. Acela este anul n care ai cunoscut-o pe Dra. Myriam Snchez Posada? . A.: Ne-am ntlnit pe 15 noiembrie 1971 la Accademia di Belle Arti din Roma, n prima zi a cursurilor. Din acea zi suntem nedesprii. mpreun, ne-am pierdut n labirintul artei. M. M. P.: n acea perioad ai fost redactor la Radio Vatican, unde ai realizat nenumrate emisiuni, ai publicat lucrri despre diverse aspecte ale istoriei artelor, pregtirea materialelor i tehnica picturii. . A.: Am lucrat civa ani la secia romn a postului de radio al Vaticanului. Folosesc acest prilej pentru a mulumi monseniorului Flaviu Popan, redactorul ef, pierit n condiii tragice, pentru toate nvturile sale, n special pentru desluirea tainelor isihasmului. mpreun cu Myriam am publicat o seam de rezultate ale cercetrilor noastre n domeniul materialelor i tehnicii picturii, articole prezentate n diferite conferine internaionale, activitate care a continuat i mai apoi n Statele Unite. Astzi, aceste studii sunt folosite n multe instituii europene de nvmnt. Ne-am bucurat de sprijinul i sugestiile ctorva personaliti importante: Marc Havel, colaborator al lui Jacques Maroger i director tehnic al firmei Lefranc & Bourgeois; Hans Gert Mueller, director tehnic al firmei Lukas din Duesseldorf i editor al ultimelor ediii aduse la zi ale crii lui Max Doerner; i mai ales Roelof Roelofs care ne-a vizitat atelierul la Roma i a crui fabric am vizitat-o apoi la Scheveningen, fiul lui Albert Roelofs, pictorul fondator al firmei Oudt Hollandse Olieverwenmakerij. M. M. P.: Ai inut prelegeri i ai fcut demonstraii de caligrafie japonez, greac, sanscrit i din toat lumea ai obinut premii internaionale. . A.: Mi se par importante cele dou mari premii pentru caligrafie care mi-au fost decernate de Ministerul Afacerilor Externe al Japoniei in 1996 si 2005, cel din 2005 primit aproximativ n acelai timp cu rangul Shihan (maestru) acordat de Asociaia Japonez de Art Caligrafic.

Caligrafie: Arta Exist pentru Venicie (patru caractere chinezeti n stilul vechi folosit pentru sigilii).

n prelegerile nsoite de obicei de demonstraii, am ncercat s subliniez originea comun a scrierii i a picturii precum i aspectul de meditaie a celor dou activiti, discutnd deasemenea diferitele faete ale tiinei artei n contextul teoriei jocurilor evoluionare, a logicii operaiilor de distingere, a ciberneticii i a policontexturalitii. Ce rost a avut i ar avea activitatea pe care noi, astzi, o numim art? Se poate vorbi de o tiin a artei? Metoda matematic a teoriei jocurilor i n special a jocurilor evolutionare, a elucidat deja apariia spaiilor culturale, pentru a folosi termenul introdus de Lucian Blaga, i, implicit, a conveniilor. n mod similar, teoria jocurilor a demonstrat apariia conventiilor grafice i rolul acestor convenii n facilitarea comunicaiei. Un spaiu cultural sau o tradiie artistic pot fi concepute metaforic, vizual, ca o estur (contextur), ca, de exemplu, o scoar de-a noastr, cu toata simplitatea sau amplificarea formal pe care aceasta o poate avea, cu toate elementele tradiionale i/sau apropriate care constituie compoziia. Aici se ivete posibilitatea jocului cu i ntre mai multe contexturi, trecerea din una n alta, ntr-un cuvnt: policontexturalitatea. Matematicianul George Spencer Brown demonstreaz n Legile Formei, o carte n care se observ influena gndirii Indiei i n care este prezentat succint o teorie a distingerilor i/sau un calcul al formei, c motivul pentru care lucrurile par a avea sens nu are de a face cu schimbri la nivelul coninutului ci cu schimbri la nivelul formei. Cercetrile sale au fost o surs de inspiraie pentru cei activi n multe alte domenii: art, sociologie, cibernetic. Iar cibernetica poate fi descris ca arta de a naviga ntre posibiliti i constrngeri. Iat-ne ntr-un univers n care simpla aciune de a trasa o linie creeaz ceva din nimic. Operaiile urmtoare sunt inevitabile, dei apar fortuite. Aici ii afl locul perspectivele, sistemele de proporii, amd. Iar totul se intoarce asupr-i, se refer la sine. M. M. P.: coala ai nceput-o la Bucureti, apoi v-ai continuat studiile la Roma i New York. Ai urmat cursuri de arhitectur, istoria artei, pictur mural, restaurare i conservare a monumentelor istorice, vorbii fluent mai multe limbi strine, traducei, scriei cri. Spunei-mi, v rog, cum ai putut ajunge la asemenea performane? . A.: Nu cred c este vorba de o performan. Pur i simplu este rezultatul educaiei pe care familia s-a strduit s mi-o dea, dup modelul educaiei antebelice. Am avut deasemenea norocul de a ntlni civa dascli deosebii, nti cei particulari i apoi nvtoarea de neuitat de la coala elementar, precum i cei de la liceu i de la Institutul Ion Mincu. Trebuie s menionez aici, cu drag i cu respect, doi profesori pe care i-am avut la Liceul Nicolae Tonitza din Bucureti: Nicolae Butnaru (cursul de crochiuri) i Vasile Brtulescu. Mai trziu, la New York am studiat metodele de identificare a pigmenilor, n special microscopia, cu Walter McCrone, unul dintre experii de frunte n acest domeniu, la Centrul de Conservare al Institutului de Arte Frumoase. De importan capital a fost ntlnirea cu opera caligrafic a lui Kamijo Shinzan i apoi cu opera succesorului su la conducerea Asociaiei Japoneze de Art Caligrafic,

profesorul Tanaka Setsuzan, unul dintre cei mai mari caligrafi ai Japoniei, dasclul care mi va cluzi studiile. Modelul maestru-ucenic s-a dovedit foarte roditor de-alungul veacurilor. Cuvntul japonez shodo nseamn calea scrierii. Ucenicia cere autodisciplin, practic zilnic i o riguroas ascez spiritual.: respect tradiia, stpnete-o i gsete-i calea n cadrul ei. Drumeul este transformat de drumeie. Conform uzanei strvechi, odata cu promovarea mea la rangul de maestru, profesorul Tanaka Setsuzan mi-a dat un nou nume de caligraf: Munte de Art (Gheizan n limba japonez).

Sigiliu cu numele Gheizan M. M. P.: n 1991 ai fondat mpreun cu Dna Myriam Snchez Posada de Arteni, Sol Invictus Press. Ce este Sol Invictus Press i cum v-a venit ideea nfiinrii ei i mai ales de ce? . A.: Sol Invictus Press (sol invictus nseamn soarele nenvins, ultimul zeu al romanilor naintea cretinrii imperiului) este mica noastr tiparni artizanal, fondat odat cu prima noastr carte de artist, Laudes Creaturarum, poemul Sfntului Francisc din Assisi.

Imaginea de pe sigiliul tiparniei i numele su au fost inspirate de coada cioplit a unei linguri de lemn: soarele i caii care i trag carul n cer. Cartea de artist este o privire napoi, spre vremea cnd crile erau i obiecte de art.

Unul dintre sigiliile tiparniei M. M. P.: D-na. Myriam Snchez Posada de Arteni, omul de lng Dvs., femeia deosebit de o via, blnd i iubitoare, sufletul Dvs. pereche. Nu trebuie neaprat s ajungi s o cunoti ndeaproape ca s-i dai seama c frumuseea, fineea i nobleea ei sunt aternute nu numai pe chip, ci i n suflet. D-na. Myriam Snchez Posada de Arteni cu ochii ei mari d senzaia c descoper cu candoare lucrurile pentru prima oar i se apleac cu druire i bucurie asupra tuturor. Desigur c asemenea caliti se adun firesc tot ntr-un suflet de artist, pentru c D-na. Myriam Snchez Posada de Arteni provine dintr-o familie aristocratic din Columbia, este un artist plastic de valoare, rspltit cu nenumrate premii internaionale. Cum lucreaz aceast, hai s-i spunem, echip de artiti deosebit de talentai, pentru c se tie c de regul artitii, (mai ales cei de acelai fel) sunt destul de exigeni cu opera celuilalt? Cum se transpune excepionalul i misterul din arta D-nei. Myriam Snchez Posada de Arteni n realizarea legtoriei de cri n stil coptic i n stpnirea tainelor codex-urilor occidentale?

D-na. Myriam Snchez Posada de Arteni, Conservatoare pentru Expoziii, n laboratorul Bibliotecii Publice, New York

M. de A.: Crend crile noastre, lucrm dup modelul vechilor scriptoria i a meterilor anonimi, mprtind sugestii i idei, fiecare contribuind cu abilitile proprii la produsul final. De exemplu, la Roma, am studiat nu numai la Accademia di Belle Arti ci i la Institutul Central de Restaurare, la Institutul Alfonso Gallo pentru Restaurarea Crilor, la Arhivele Statului i am urmat programul UNESCO-ICCROM, apoi am urmat cursul de identificare a pigmenilor la Institutul de Conservare din New York i cursul de restaurare a fotografiilor la Institutul de Tehnologie din Rochester. Am studiat deasemenea i sunt specializat i n diferitele sisteme de legtorie, de la tabletele de cear ale romanilor la legtoria crilor coptice, sau de la procedeele medievale la cele orientale. Pare potrivit a lega o carte dedicat unui poem de Mallarm n format codex, n timp ce pentru o carte dedicat unui poem scurt sau unui poet din Orientul ndeprtat pare mai potrivit formatul acordeon.

Stnga: carte-sul din papirus; centru: tbliele de cear ale romanilor; deapta: carte-sul din pergament. Reconstrucii realizate de Myriam Snchez Posada de Arteni.

Coda (poem de Daniel Simko), 1997

Cantique de Saint Jean (poem de Stphane Mallarm), 1996

. A.: Iat ce a scris Isaac Gewirtz, curatorul expoziiei retrospective Sol Invictus Press, despre construcia conceput de Myriam pentru coperta primei noastre cri: ,,Inventivitatea ei dramatic este evident n construcia celor cinci panouri rabatabile ale feei coperii pentru Laudes Creaturarum. Simbolul n tu i pensul al cercului coninnd iniialele n greac ale lui Iisus Cristos, I X, pe faa copertei, care nchis este format din dou panouri, se deschide asupra unui Ichthys (un pete ntr-un cerc). Panourile rabatabile devin metafora revelaiei.

Laudes Creaturarum, 1992 M. M. P.: Pe 21 octombrie 2011, cu ocazia lansrii albumului de art Constantin Antonovici ne-am ntlnit la Institutul Cultural Romn din New York. La masa rotund la care am participat i eu, am adus discuia despre un aspect deosebit de important din opera marelui sculptor: bufnia i simbolul ei. Stiu c acum D-na. Myriam Snchez Posada de Arteni lucreaz la o carte de artist n care subiectul este tot bufnia. De ce, iat, iari revenirea acestei psri?

O compoziie digital care va ilustra povestea bufniei M. de A.: Atena Glaukopis (cu ochii lucitori ca ai bufniei), bufnia pictat la Horezu pe pridvorul bisericii din trg, bufniele neolitice sau cele ale culturilor precolumbiene din America, sunt simboluri ale nelepciunii i erudiiei. Numele mnstirii Hurezi pare a fi legat de huhurezii ce slluiau pe acel plai. Bufnia s-a ivit parc de la sine n vremea cnd lucram la prima noastr carte, Laudes Creaturarum. i-a gsit un loc i n proiectul mural al soului meu, un proiect dedicat lui Orfeu. Atena cu bufnia ei, pasrea care poate vedea i noaptea, l-au nsoit i aprat pe Ulise de-a lungul exilului. Iat de ce bufnia este prezent i n cartea noastr ntoarcerea lui Ulise, bazat pe poemul lui Radu Gyr. Pare c bufnia st de veghe asupra artitilor i a pribegilor. Cartea despre povestea bufniei va apare n limbile spaniol i englez, poate i n romnete. Reproduc aici cteva fragmente din primele pagini ale crii: Hoplaaaaa, buenas noches para todos! Sean todos bienvenidos a mi modesto relato en una noche cuando el silenci reina en el bosque porque los espritus acongojados deambulan por ah.

Y as, de algn modo empezaba todo, all por el mes de Junio, de no recuerdo qu ao cuando los sueos se hacen realidad si se piden con mucho deseo, en donde la magia no se esfuma si el llanto de las almas, el grito de sus voces, cae desde el cielo fluyendo en murmullos de alegra y no de penas. La llegada de las vacaciones de mitad de ao era para m y mis hermanas sinnima de felicidad. Toda la familia incluyendo hermanos, tos y primos viajamos a encontrarnos en el rbol de los abuelos, el rbol de los recuerdos como yo lo llamo. Hopaaa, sear bun tuturor! Fiii binevenii cu toii, vei asculta o istorisire fr multe podoabe, n aceast noapte n care tcerea domnete n codru n vreme ce duhurile nelinitite rtcesc prin preajm. i aa a nceput totul, cumva, pe acolo, n luna Iunie a nu tiu crui ancnd visurile devin realiti daca dorul este dogoritor, cnd farmecele par a nu se mai stinge o dat ce tnguirea sufletelor, larma glasurilor lor, pogoar din ceruri afluind n murmure voioase, uitnd ndurerarea. nceputul vacanelor anuale era pentru mine i surorile mele un sinonim al fericirii. ntreaga familie, fraii, unchii i verii, cltoream pentru a ne ntlni n copacul bunicilor, pe care l-am numit de atunci arborele amintirilor.

17 Martie 2011: Fundaia Caring for Colombia a conferit medalia onorific D-nei Myriam Snchez Posada de Arteni pentru o via dedicat artelor. Fotografie: Herb Scher.

M. M. P.: Suntei printre puinii artiti plastici, dac nu chiar unicul, care triete n Occident i care stpnete arta tierii sigiliilor. . A.: Extremul Orient consider sigiliile tiate n piatr una dintre artele care trebuie stpnite de literai. Cuitele sau dlile sunt numite pensule de oel. Este, de obicei, o art miniatural dei sigiliile pot fi i de mari dimensiuni, pn la aa-zisa caligrafie cioplit. Sigiliile mele au fost considerate demne de a sta alturi de cele ale lui Qi Baishi, marele pictor i caligraf chinez.

Aceste reguli nu sunt reguli i de aceea sunt regulile mele.

Anastasis (Pogorrea n Iad). M. M. P.: Citind diverse materiale despre biografia Dvs. se spune undeva: ,,arta este artistul. Cum v vedei ncadrat n aceast afirmaie? . A.: V gndii probabil la jocurile de cuvinte ale lui Martin Heidegger, la formula sa: ,,Artistul este originea operei de art. Opera de art este originea artistuluiun al treilea lucru exist naintea amndorura- arta. Formula subliniaz aspectul de feedback ntre art - artist - lucrare. Formula poate fi concentrat. S.J.Schmidt spune: ,,arta construiete arta Cu el ne aflm n domeniul constructivismului radical. Este vorba aici de o experien pe care orice pictor adevrat trebuie s o fi avut. Se spune c odat, aflndu-se n faa unei capodopere, Correggio ar fi exclamat: ,,i eu sunt pictor! (,,Anch' io son' pittore). De mic am vzut n colecii i n muzee lucrri de Pallady, Petracu, Tonitza, Henri Catargi, Dumitru Ghia. Da, mi-am zis, sunt i eu pictor! M. M. P.: Vorbii-ne, v rog, despre crile de sigilii gravate n piatr cu litere chinezeti i japoneze, precum i de tehnica scrierilor cu un condei de bambus. . A.: Un joc al literailor chinezi consist n scrierea unui vers clasic, n succesiune, de ctre fiecare participant. Am cules versuri de pe diferite picturi chinezeti, de obicei compuse chiar de autori. Versurile conin cinci sau apte caractere. Odat tiate n piatr, le-am imprimat crend astfel un nou poem compus din citatele clasice, un poem care are, n acelai timp, i o prezen vizual. Condeiul cioplit n bambus este o alt unealt oriental, folosit de obicei pentru desen. Produce rezultate interesante i n caligrafie. Iat traducerea n englez a textului crii intitulate Casual Writings By A Window (Scrieri ocazionale stnd la fereastr), 1995 (n carte, textele originale apar imprimate n forma scrierii antice folosite n China si Japonia pentru tierea sigiliilor i, deasemenea, n forma scrierii semicursive executate cu condeiul de bambus):

Iat un exemplu al folosirii condeiului de bambus, pentru desen i pentru scriere (macheta pentru albumele dedicate Rugciunii lui Isus):

M. M. P.: Aminteam, mai la nceputul acestui interviu c pictura Dvs. include i aspectul religios, pe care l tratai ntr-o manier aparte de ceea ce omul de rnd este obinuit s vad (cum ar fi de exemplu icoanele din biserici). Picturile Dvs. religioase au, dup prerea mea, ceva din nevzutul i inefabilul nzuinei de a atinge divinitatea, de a te apropia cu ea. Pictura Dvs. nu este direct i nici invaziv, ea este explicit implicit i nvluitoare, privind-o te simi ca i cum ai face parte din ea, din cldura ei plcut. . A.: n ce consist religiozitatea unei opere de art? Oare conteaz numai coninutul, imaginea figurativ? Ce facem cu kilometrii de istorii biblice care decoreaz pereii attor muzee i biserici i care nu par deloc spirituale? Oare o abstraciune a lui Poliakoff sau o natur moart a lui Morandi nu pot fi considerate ca fiind religioase n sensul larg al cuvntului? Profesorul Tanaka Setsuzan a spus: Zeii vorbesc prin tuele pensulei artistului. Tradiia iconografic vestic i erminiile indic ce este necesar pentru a defini un subiect ca biblic. ntrebrile pe care mi le-am pus i la care am ncercat s rspund prin cteva picturi au fost legate de form. Iat de ce am creat compoziii complicate, seria Magilor, cu multe personaje i aluzii la retoric, dup exemplul celor realizate de Botticelli sau Ghirlandaio. Din acelai motiv am pictat ,,icoane folosind technicile picturii ExtremOrientale crend ceea ce am numit ,,icoane Zen. ,,Icoanele n ulei, duse aproape la abstracie sunt i un exerciiu n folosirea culorilor complementare. Icoana Sfntului

Luca, patronul zugravilor, este construit pe armonia rou-verde plus alb i negru, cu o trecere n gama galben-violet. Faptul este c att n caligrafia extrem-oriental ct i n pictarea icoanelor, n zographia, coninutul respectiv, textul sau imaginea, ar trebui s fie att de cunoscut privitorilor, nct s poat fi manipulat formal orict de mult fr a deveni ireconoscibil.

Sfntul Luca

Iat un exemplu din unul dintre albumele dedicate Rugciunii lui Iisus, Mironosiele la mormnt, colaj i tu pe hrtie:

n paralel, am explorat alegoriile complicate, att de iubite de manieriti, pe care le-am realizat formal n tehnica monotipului bazat pe tehnicile caligrafiei Zen. Pornind tot de la posibilitile i limitrile unui sistem formal i/sau al unei tehnici, am realizat i celelate serii, Bacanalele, Rzboinicii, Legendele sau variaiunile digitale pe tema Mioriei Orfice. M. M. P.: Rmnem n acelai registru al picturii i al simbolului i v propun s plecm de la un text al lui Mircea Eliade: ,,seeing signs, hidden meanings, symbols, in the sufferings, the depressions, the dry periods of everyday life. Seeing them and reading them even if they aren't there; if one sees them, one can build a structure and read a message in the formless flow of things and the monotonous flux of historical facts.

. A.: Eliade nsui sugereaz c semnele exist numai pentru cel ce dorete s descopere semne i semnificaii. Criticii, istoricii artei, filosofii, semioticienii se opresc la imaginea figurativ i ncearc s o ,,citeasc. Exist ns semne golite de sens, semnificaiile iniiale fiind uitate, dei semnele ca form continu s existe n repertoriul atelierelor. A prefera cele spuse de un scriitor balcanic ca noi, Danilo Ki: ,,forma ca posibilitate a alegerii, forma ca ncercare de a gsi puncte de sprijin n haosul care ne nconjoara. Sau, mai aproape de zilele noastre, iat ce a spus Niklas Luhmann: ,,Simbolurile sunt forme ale auto-referinei care folosesc auto-referina formei.

Iat o lucrare pe care am intitulat-o Semnificaia Semnificaiei. A inceput cu o schi-colaj, cu cteva tieturi din diferite reviste asamblate la ntmplare. Este pur-si-simplu un joc al formei.

Bunavestire, un exerciiu n folosirea a dou culori, albastru i galben, plus alb i negru, pe fondul de ocru rou popular n vremea lui El Greco. Fondul accentueaz culorile suprapuse.

Lucrnd la proiectul mural Orfeu, expus apoi n Biblioteca Sf Marcu, Seminarul Teologic General, New York, 2000

Lucrarea este o experimentare tehnic, ncercarea de a vedea dac efectele monotipului pe hrtie ar putea fi realizate i n ulei. Curatorii insist asupra unui titlu pentru orice lucrare. Aa c i-am dat un nume: titlul iniial are sens numai n limba romn: Cai Verzi pe Perei (Composition with Green Horsemen).

n vremea controversei iconoclastice prinii bisericii au rostit acel adevr care ar trebui s par evident i care mai trziu a fost rostit i de Andr Lhote, dascl al attor pictori romni: imaginea pictat este o echivalen plastic (de la cuvintele plastikos, plassein, care nseamn a forma), cteva linii i pete aplicate pe o suprafa. Arta plastic nseamn deci, n sens strict, arta formei. Coninutul, subiectul, tema, sunt un element secundar. M. M. P.: Artistul din Dvs. v-a mpins i spre scris, cri i eseuri despre semiotica vizual, despre pictura modern, despre pictura i arhitectura bisericeasc din Romnia, Macedonia, Grecia i Cipru. . A.: Este vorba de o explorare a tradiiilor picturii folosind posibilitile internetului. Muli turiti posteaz fotografii de calitate. Le mulumesc tuturor pe aceast cale, n special celor care au documentat multele biserici de lemn romneti. n ultima vreme m-am concentrat asupra tradiiei bizantine. Este posibil uneori s reuesc a reconstitui ntreaga pictur a unei bisericue. Cteva sute de fotografii referitoare la semiosfera vizual bizantin-mioritic, sau la Macedonia i Grecia, dezvluie ndat extraordinara varietate a acestui stil, att la nivel orizontal, de la neam la neam (da, se pare ca exist un specific naional!) ct i vertical, cronologic, anume schimbri ale stilului i aproprieri ale unor soluii formale occidentale adaptate tradiiei locale. n ce ne privete, din negura anonimatului apar numele ctorva meteri ale cror opere nu mi se pare a fi cu nimic inferioare creaiilor rivalilor lor celebrii din Vest. Voi enumera numai civa: Drago Coman la Arbore, Toma din Suceava la Humor, Sofronie i Ion la Sucevia, Mihnea (zugravul lui Mihai Viteazu), Prvu Mutu (zugravul Cantacuzinilor), Ilie din Teiu. Variaiunile pe tema formei, dezvoltarea formei din form, complexitatea compoziiilor polifonice, miestria n folosirea gamelor colorate consonante, asonante i disonante, sunt caracteristicile acestei tradiii, caracteristici care, mai trziu, vor constitui temeiul operelor unui Pallady, Tonitza, Petracu, sau Ghia. M. M. P.: S revenim la Romnia. De cnd nu ai mai fost n ar? . A.: Din 1971. M. M. P.: Ai dori s revedei Romnia? . A.: Itaca, Itaca mea, mi-a druit temelia solid care mi-a permis s fiu ntotdeauna mndru de a fi un vlstar al spaiului mioritic. Itaca, Itaca mea, mi-a druit frumoasa pribegie. Poate, cndva, o voi revedea... Cum spune Radu Gyr: ,,adevratele nfrngeri / sunt renunrile la vis... M. M. P.: Ce proiecte de viitor avei? . A.: Dorim s desvrim o seam de proiecte de carte, care se afl deja n stadiul de machet: cartea despre lumin, cartea dedicat unui alt poem al lui Daniel Simko (un prieten poet slovac care, din pcate, a trecut prea devreme la cele venice), povestea

bufniei i cteva altele. Un proiect vechi de peste dou decenii i va vedea, sperm, realizarea: o biseric cu hramul Izvorul Tmduirii. M. M. P.: Vom ncheia cu permanenta ntrebare care se pune n astfel de cazuri. Ce ai transmite Romniei i tuturor romnilor, de aici, din America mult rvnit i visat de romni, din New York-ul n care trii de o via? . A.: Generaia mea a fost una din cele sacrificate, irosite n vrtejul istoriei. M voi adresa celor tineri, celor care poate vor ctitori Romnia de mine. Se spune c la Delphi, alturi de faimosul dicton ,,cunoate-te pe tine nsui, se mai afla unul: ,,fii ceea ce eti. Fiii ceeace suntei! Nu uitai niciodat c Europa a nceput acolo, n munii, n vile si pe plaiurile balcano-mioritice. M. M. P.: V mulumesc. Mugura Maria Petrescu