Photo: Alex Coman, Raluca Popa
Brâncuşi: The Unknown Portrait
solo exhibition by Raluca Popa, 25 Oct – 4 Nov 2016
12 Star Gallery, Europe House, London
Constantin Brâncuşi (1876-1957) was one of the pioneering figures of modern sculpture and one of the most original artists of the twentieth-century. His serenely simplified sculptures ‘Bird in Space’, ‘M-lle Pogany’ or ‘Sleeping Muse’ are unanimously recognised as icons of Modernism and, looking at his art now, it is almost impossible not to see him as a precursor to more recent work as diverse as that of Barbara Hepworth and Henry Moore, Anish Kapoor and Carl Andre, Donald Judd and Louise Bourgeois. He was a remarkably protean figure, also a close friend to leading avant-garde artists such as Amedeo Modigliani, Marcel Duchamp, Man Ray and Erik Satie, yet he remains one of the most elusive, with an aura of otherness still intriguing today.
Marking the 140th anniversary of the artist’s birth, the exhibition Brâncuşi: The Unknown Portrait by Raluca Popa aimed to shed a new light on the Romanian-born modernist sculptor through a series of thought-provoking drawings that explored the potential within language and image to shape our perception of myth, reality, creative processes and construction of artistic subjectivity.
Using a wide range of sources, including two of the most relevant monographs ever written on Brâncuşi – Sanda Miller’s ‘Brancusi’ (Reaktion Books, 2010) and Doina Lemny’s ‘Brancuşi – an Artist without Frontiers’ (Noi Media Print, 2016), Popa (re)created an oblique, layered portrait of the great artist, challenging herself to understand how his story was told. By filtering, subverting, erasing and overlaying Brâncuși’s memories and traces, equally long-familiar and less known, she captured his compelling presence as it echoes through his correspondence, notes, photographs and footage of his studio, her delicate creations probing the precarious line between what is possible and what is not, as Brâncuși did in his continued search for the essence of things.