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Meet the Artists – interview series
Have you ever wondered what it’s like to be an artist? Where do they get their ideas from? How do they become artists? What are they working on at the moment? What advice do they have for aspiring young artists?
Find out in our In Conversations interview series where we chat with the artists showcased in our Gallery.
We explore their work, their pathways to practice, look at some of the standout moments and challenges in their careers as artists, and find out what makes them tick!
We’ll be adding more interviews each fortnight – subscribe to our newsletter (at the bottom of the page) and never miss a story!
IN CONVERSATION with
CATALIN TZETZE RADULESCU
Located in Bucharest, Romania, Catalin TzeTze Radulescu is an artist with a very unique set of skills. He is an art restorer, visual artist, and harmonica blues player and he shows craftsmanship and passion in all of his many trades.
Catalin studied art at the Fine Art Institute in Iasi. He is specialized in the restoration of old books parchments and binding of old books, certified by the Special Center for Staff Training from the Romanian Ministry of Culture, within the restoration - conservation laboratory of the Iasi National Museum Complex. In 1992 he was awarded a specialization scholarship in old book restoration, parchment, and old bookbinding, under the auspices of Patrons of the Arts in the Vatican Museums in Rome.
His work has been exhibited in places such as Museums and Cultural Centers in Romania, Bruxelles, San Marino.
Catalin kindly took some time this week to discuss his art and his creative process.
How would you define yourself in just a few words? Who is TzeTze?
Although I have a vague hunch about how I am, I find it very difficult to define myself. I will try to mention 3 points: pragmatic, atheist, misanthrope. TzeTze obviously comes from the famous African fly. It's a story from adolescence, from the seventh grade. My history teacher nicknamed me. Although it annoyed me at first, I assumed this nickname over time. Now it helps not to be confused with the senator. (n.e. Catalin Radulescu, Former Member of the Chamber of Deputies of Romania)
How do you know you are an artist?
In fact, I do not know! And I'm often scared when I come across the term "artist." In a world where so many misfits call themselves that, I think the term has become a bit shabby, it is often used inappropriately. Going through my childhood and adolescence, I confess that I started painting quite late. Why? I do not know how to properly answer this question.
There's a particular reason you painted My Deamon?
Yes! The first reason is Nichita Stanescu's poem. (n.e. Nichita Stanescu, famous Romanian poet and essayist) The second reason is that I dreamed of painting it. So, I painted it. I had to!
Can you describe one artwork or series from your work that you feel was pivotal in your career?
Most of the works had their purpose at some point. If only because they didn't give me peace until I finished them. There are a number of small series that I enrich every month with new work. I've been doing this for many years. It's called the "Tree of Life" or Magic Tree. But it is not an essential collection, only a modest one, which aims at simple decorative intentions. If you asked me to choose the best works, I would tell you that there are four in number. Two figurative and two nonfigurative. I don't even need to mention their titles. They stand out immediately from the rest because they have a strong core.
Tree of Life 1 - oil on cavas -mixed media-gold leaf, 15 / 30 cm - private collection (Romania)
What are your art influences?
I could mention thousands of creators who marked me through their work. Some are painters, others stage designers, choreographers, directors, or photographers. Then there are some of the children I’ve taught art classes.
Has your practice changed over time?
Yes! This is happening all the time.
What direction are you heading in now?
I am madly in love with nonfigurative painting.
Is there something about being an artist that makes you feel like vulnerable sometimes?
Just sometimes? (bitterly smile) … I would say that vulnerability is always the traveling companion of any creator. The healthiest way is to take it as it is. Vulnerability can have many appearances, starting with the pecuniary one and ending, perhaps, with the communicative one.
Has art helped in the journey of survival?
Spiritual, yes! Financial, no! I have never had my own place, a dedicated workshop. I always painted where the “labor pains” took me, wherever I could, in the hallways, kitchens, or cellars. I hope that the future will give me a change of status.
Do you think that things like technology and social media have made people forget how to actually be with each other in a pure way?
No, on the contrary! I believe that technology and social media offer incredible chances of communicating with people you would have had no chance to meet, or about whom you would not have been able to find out. It is true that where there is not the slightest discipline in using them, a form of alienation is installed. The real interaction, the authentic one, has its indisputable value, and together with these new technological arguments, we realize how precious, in fact, the moments spent around our peers are.
Would you say that your work is introspective?
Yes! Always, yes!
What was the very first piece of art you made?
I remember that at the age of 12, I tried to draw with toothpaste on a piece of plywood, a character riding a horse, seen from the front. The night before, I had seen at the Telecinemateca (n.e. 70’s Romanian TV programme) the musical film "The Man from La Mancha", with Peter O'Toole as Don Quixote. Then it seemed to me that my attempt was a disaster. Now I think I would be happy to see it again, with all the awkwardness of that time.
Why are your clocks show time in reverse?
The answer is simple: The rotational motion of matter in the Universe is the opposite of the clockwise direction. So, I do nothing but indicate the correct direction of the flow of time. I'm joking, obviously! The idea that through an art installation I could make time-reversible, is simply adorable. Don’t you believe that? That's why I try to add all sorts of other objects found by chance on the street, as props for this Time Travel. Every watch I make has its own story.
It is said that if you have a clock in reverse, with each second you become younger.
It is not true, but we love the idea!
Do you find answers in your art?
Answers, no! But art helps me sometimes ask the right questions.
What's the story of Kuleshov Effect?
"The Kuleshov Effect" series starts from the plastic interpretation of a technique used in film editing, which bears the name of the one who consecrated it – Kuleshov. In just two months and over 60 study sketches, I made three small and one large work, all of which are now in private collections in Romania.
The Kuleshov Effect - (february 2021) - oil on canvas, 100/150cm - private collection (Romania)
Which artist/artwork most challenged your thinking?
I would start with the multitude of cave paintings I have discovered over time, Neolithic art, Leonardo Da Vinci, Cy Twombly.
What are the most important artist's tools?
First and last, I think an artist's most important tool is intelligence. My favourite tool is the palette knife.
What colours can you not do without?
There are two: Blue is one. The other is a shade of burnt sienna, which I invented and which I always prepare it myself.
What is your dream project?
I have several projects that haunt me and I have not been able to finish so far. One would be to define a collection of 13 watches, of larger dimensions. I have all the sketches ready since 2005, I know what name the collection will bear and I have substantiated the whole concept. Unfortunately, until now I have not found the respite to put them into practice, because I simply cannot survive only from my art, unfortunately. Another important project refers to the resumption of work in the area of designer jewelry.
What advice would you give to emerging artists entering the art world?
I was never good at advice, not even when I should have given some to myself.