Cornel Brudascu (ROU, °1937)
Angel, 1990, oil on canvas, 129 x 109 cm
Composition I (Ritual), 2013, oil on canvas, 40 x 36 cm
The evolution in the oeuvre of the Romanian artist Cornel Brudaşcu (°1937, Tusa, Romania) was permanently liable to the political climate in Romania. During communism Brudaşcu painted mere subjects of which he was sure that they would be accepted by the communist regime, such as his Peisaj or landscapes, Flori or still lives of flowers and portraits of 'Apparatsjiks', literally 'agents of the apparatus', or officials of the communist party. Still, Brudaşcu's remarkable expressive stroke is constant in his entire oeuvre. Brudaşcu's compositions contain subtle references to the art of old masters such as Diego Vélazquez (1599-1660) and El Greco (1541-1614).
When after 1989 artistic freedom became reality again, Cornel Brudaşcu could finally paint what truly affected him. Right after the Romanian revolution, in 1990, Brudaşcu made 'Angel', likely a self-portrait, that portrays a male nude holding his own head in a cloth in his arms. The upper body of the figure diffuses in the surrounding powerful blue, black and white strokes. These rather dark, energetic and limitless brushstrokes, which enclose the upper body, contrast with the cleanly, angular folds of the white cloths on the foreground and the rose-red background. Brudaşcu blends on an expressionistic manner figuration with abstraction. The scene shows a tragic moment, a mix of drama, dilemma and emotions. The theme of 'Angel' is the loss of and search for identity, presumably an autobiographical subject. The painting was namely made at a time when the painter was repositioning himself in his art practice.
The painting 'Composition I (Ritual)' of Cornel Brudaşcu, which he painted more than ten years later, in 2013, is also part of the collection of Hugo Voeten. On this canvas appears the silhouette of a young man who is witnessing how a group of figures is caught up in a ritual. The naked bodies of these figures seem to wind between the dark blue and ochre background. They are entirely wrapped up in the swirling, rhythmic movement of the rite. The expressionist brushstrokes are in contrast with the tenderness of the naked young bodies and the intimacy that they express. By depicting the man on the left on his back, the viewer is ushered into the scene. 'Composition I (Ritual)' is about the loss of innocence, which is symbolized by the open wound on the right shoulder of the young man, caused by the breaking of his wings. By placing nude bodies central, Brudaşcu represents the loss of innocence as a physical rather than a spiritual event.
Text: Sarah Gallasz, November 2015