Ediorials - Interview with Samir Mihail Vancica
Tell us a few words about the beginning of your artistic career.
I discovered painting as a child, thanks to my parents who have taught me drawing and painting, putting the brush in my hand, as one might say.
Back in 2004, the choice for the "N. Tonitza" Fine Art High School meant to me an existential turning point. I abandoned computer programming for painting, although I mastered the former pretty well. I went to the classes of the teachers Ludmila Ionescu (2004-2005) and Miltiade Nistoroiu (2004-2007) where I depicted a free and daring spirit in art, perhaps contradicting the traditional relationship between a student and his teacher. I have to admit that during high school I was a bit of a rebel, never being satisfied with receiving teaching without questioning it first. Whether directly or in devious and subtle ways, it is then that I have gained the primary concepts in different painting techniques and about the great artists of the twentieth century. During high school I also attended the workshop of master Conf. Univ. Dr. Nicolae Alexi, from whom I have received precious drawing lessons from live model. In 2006 I took a preparatory training course at the arts university with Conf. Univ. Dr. George Moscal - during which I made many experiments in color -and with Lect. Univ. Dr. Anca Boeriu, professor at the Graphics faculty - thus improving my drawing from observation, modelling and structure of the drawing.
In 2007 I began the undergraduate studies at the National Arts University in Bucharest, where during the first year we were lead by Lect. Univ. Dr. Alexandru Radvan, a very open professor who helped me to gain new knowledge about contemporary artists and their thinking. We did a lot of drawing, painting, many, many sketches - it was perhaps the most productive year of University for me ! Rădvan never hesitated to demonstrate us the techniques he was teaching. He taught me that drawing, from the ancient Egyptians, to Picasso and William Kentridge, should express strength and weight, like the Sphinx. Since my second year I was guided by Lect. Univ. Dr. Ion Anghel. Mr. Anghel is a very active teacher in the class studio. He advised me that in painting I should put myself problems, rather than to seek for a ready-made solution, the edification consisting only of the process undertook and of the traveling of a mental road. I continued my graduate studies with Conf. Univ. Dr. Peter Lucaci, with whom I learned how to get organised for a dissertation project: you must be very consistent, passing through stages that you cannot jump over without damaging the result. The order of mind will always reflect in what you do. (So there should not be a distinction between thought and its expression)
Other teachers also had an important role in my intellectual and moral formation, teachers in other curricular areas such as philosophy (PhD. Dr. Aslam Constantin), theology (Assoc. Prof. Univ. Dr. Adrian Lemeni) economy (Univ. Dr. Costea Munteanu) and literature (Prof. Ileana Truţă). All of them opened my mind and contributed to my understanding of the world and of myself. I think the greatest satisfaction that I could bring to them is through my painting and through the art that I will develop, defining and polishing the ideas that they have planted in my soul.
Why painting and not something else?
Painting always has had a magical effect on me: for me it's not a simple image, it is almost an ex nihilo creation, a crystal surface of water through which one can see only a glimpse of true, genuine reality, which overshadows everyday reality.
The miracle of discovering my inner world through painting that reflects the real world helped me to gradually penetrate the depths of this immanent realm, with each new painting, drawing and sketch. Painting is my principal way of expression, which reveals the thoughts and feelings that otherwise are hard to put into words and to share with others. In fact, through the means of painting, I get to know things that otherwise would have remained hidden, even though they are veiled in my conscience from the beginning.
What style do you think suits you best? Is there an artist or an artistic movement that have influenced you in your art?
At first I began drawing from reproductions of Renaissance masters, and later I tried to acquire their methods of thinking an image (composition and perspective, anatomy and chiaroscuro). I started with the idea that art means an accurate representation of reality, historical or quotidian, reconstructing each element from its inner kernel to its reflective surface, from the abstractness of geometry to the recognisable figurative of the shapes thus resulted.
The great museums and exhibitions that I have seen have had a significant impact. The encounter with the masterpiece is for me a magical encounter with the truth of that specific reality that I'm looking for; it's a providential meeting, an initiation, which you can't have just by browsing through an album.
In November 2014, during my personal painting exhibition "In Principio" in Venice, I discovered the art in which prevails the thinking and the reflection on things that we take for granted, in three contemporary art, which interrogated the actual main coordinates of the world : "Prima Materia", "Spirit of the Space" and "Illusion of Light". Modern and contemporary artists revealed to me that beyond the fineness of the detail and of the spectacular representation, beyond the voluptuousness of realism and of the clarity of the visual narrative, there exist the founding concepts and ideas which an artist should be seeking. As a following of this internal reversal, in my painting entered more synthesis and abstraction of form. The pictorial space comprising the creative elements has inclined to essentiality.
What is your favorite theme? What inspires you the most?
In the focus of my concerns is the human person and its relationship with the visible world (the framework in which I represent him) and the unseen world (which may be suggested by absence or through symbol). But this human I am looking to decipher is first of all myself. Painting is merely the mirror of the artist, in which he is seen as a fragment and a protagonist of art history. Because it's about me, then everything that I experience has a significant influence on my painting: movies, books, travels, meeting friends and new people, every day of my life marking my character. Today I can say that the life together with my wife and my daughter entirely enlightens my artistic thinking. You can find out more by reading my artistic statement:
Are you using several painting techniques or are you faithful just to one? Did you happen to come back to a painting or go all the way with a theme set from the beginning?
Until now, I have painted mostly in oil and acrylics. But as a painter, I also choose to express myself through drawing using graphite, charcoal or pastels, most often mixing multiple graphical technique into a more pictorial piece of work.
To answer to you more clearly: I don't intend to follow rules and canons; to me these have an implied and organic development, of which I try not to really be aware of. However, most often I have a strict approach from the first sketch of an idea to the painting that results after several work stages. If I return to painting an old artwork, then the intervention must be substantial, transforming the original intention through a new artistic proposal. Everything must start from a good idea, a thought that blooms into a relentless focus on a problem.
What do you think about the young Romanian contemporary art and artists? Do you think you can live from art today?
While in college I was pretty reluctant to the Romanian art, today I am pleased to discover an exponentially flourishing of it, with artists having their roots firmly planted into the present, being more or less post-modern. The artist is perhaps into the spotlight, but around the artist is a complicated network that approaches him to the public, which promotes him and gives him the occasion to express himself. This network has developed quite well in our country, becoming a bridge to local and international informed audiences. The artist must be quite educated and documented on this phenomenon and thus to be able to enter in the art world through the door that fits his requirements. Of course I don't exclude the most important three factors: will, hard work and perseverance.
What do you think about the fact that some painters prefer to cover "in fashion" trends and don't go on their own way?
Going together with or against the artistic trends is everyone's choice. I prefer the reverse walk, against the grain, to catch the current from its source where the water is cleaner, returning from there with all the silt that I am able to assimilate within me.
Tell us a little about your most important exhibition. What are your future plans?
About my exhibition Primum Mobile, my first solo exhibition in Romania that opened at the beginning of 2016, those interested can read more details on DanaArt gallery's website. Beyond the fact that I prepared this exhibition during a whole a year and that it consisted of a variety of works in different techniques, it was for me a formative experience from which my future art projects will surely arise.
Readers can learn more about my art on my website http://samirmihail.weebly.com, or they can contact me by email at firstname.lastname@example.org to receive any insights on my artistic intentions and vision.
Thank you Daniela for the interview and I gratefully thank our readers!
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