Paul Neagu: Endless Edges
Works from the Mircea Pinte Collection
Museum of Art Cluj, 29 Nov 2014 – 25 Jan 2015
Of an insatiable intellectual curiosity, Paul Neagu (1938 – 2004) was an experimentalist par excellence, an artist with a multivalent sensibility, somehow detached from his own culture, which allowed him to continuously redefine himself, not inside but rather at the variable periphery of the established and exhaustive aesthetic and identity discourses. Through a complex and defiantly cryptic artistic practice including sculpture, drawing, painting, performance, and poetry, as well as through his academic career at prestigious London universities, Neagu influenced a whole generation of British artists who came to prominence in the 1980s, including Tony Cragg, Antony Gormley, and Anish Kapoor.
Neagu is one of the most valued contemporary artists both in his native Romania and in his adoptive Britain, although his art has not received the deserved critical attention yet. He had personal exhibitions at Modern Art Oxford (1975), ICA London (1979) and Serpentine Gallery (1987), received an award for the Triple Starhead monumental sculpture (that was supposed to be permanently presented at Charing Cross station but was never realised), was commissioned to create public sculptures in Bucharest (The Cross of the Century, 1997) and Timișoara (Crucifixion, 1999), and has several works in the Tate collection, Scottish National Gallery of Modern Art, Leeds Museums and Galleries sculpture collection, and the National Museum of Art of Romania.
In 2012, a large-scale stainless steel version of Edge Runner was permanently installed in Owens’ Gardens in Islington, North London, close to his former studio. It is not surprising, therefore, that the interest for his art grew after his death in 2004. The private collection of Mircea Pinte includes over fifty works: from the rudimentary and amorphous tactile objects made in the ’70s to the first drawings with cellular representations of the human body; from the paradoxical shapes of the Hyphen, the vital unit of Neagu’s art, to the generative geometries of the Catalytic Stations and Epagoge; and from the Energy series of atopical paintings to the abstract mixed media works referencing Plato’s geometry of elements as theorized in Timaeus. The aesthetic programme developed and systematically refined by the artist remains open to interpretations and decoding, even after the studies of acclaimed critics such as Paul Overy, Mel Gooding, Matei Stîrcea-Crăciun, to name just a few.
The exhibition Endless Edges was another reflection on Paul Neagu’s work, ten years after his death, from the perspective of the varied references that shaped his art and of the manifold possibilities generated by his ever-curious spirit, open to the most erudite investigations and original experiments.