The work of Romanian artist Geta Brătescu is faceted. Every angle of it offers a new interpretation, dimension, and vision of the artist, body, and movement. The retrospective at the Camden Arts Centre retraces the career of Brătescu, who gave birth to her own language in the political climate of post-war Romania.
The artworks displayed are eclectic in their appearance but share a common creative process. The oeuvre is comprised of collages, patchwork of textiles, drawings, objects and installations. Writing and drawing are the starting point of Brătescu’s work, she creates a dichotomy between two dialects which she both mirrors alternatively. During the exhibition, I can feel sometimes lost in the composition of the artist’s works, and I admit which disparities makes it difficult for me to follow.
The pieces, taken one by one, are splendid and unique. I admire the craftsmanship of the pieces of fabric sewn together as part of the “Către alb” installation, which contain the artist’s palpable presence. Through the multiple shots of herself, the repetition of drawings in “Născut în Utopia”, and photographs in “Thonet”, she seems to be insisting on the importance of expressing oneself through the multiple angles which forge one’s identity. She refers to her own body quite often, placing it in the centre of her art works such as in “The Studio” during which we watch her tracing a square using her own body as a measuring instrument. Her hands too, are essential as they often replace a pen, or a pair of scissors. They are the continuum of her artistic flow, through which she pours out thorough researches, conceptual ideas, and spontaneous experiments.
In the same short film, she is being caught playing with the camera the same way she plays with the viewers watching her art in gallery spaces. Through motions and props, both products of her own imagination, she disconnects the viewer from the reality of art, what it should be, and how it should make them feel. The focus shifts from the relationship of artist and viewer, to the art itself. Inspired by the character of Medea, “Medeic Callisthenic Moves” reflects again the tangible presence of the artist, with her hands floating and penetrating the fabric. Each stitch and change of colour refers to a sentence, a will to express a memory, a rebellious thought, or an emotional state. The image becomes three dimensional, bringing life to a space surrounded by white walls.
Brătescu, in this interview, highlights the prominence of the studio in her creativity. The same way the stitches enlighten the original shape and its contour, the studio enhances the creative life of the artist and accompanies her not only in her research, but also in the final art works, to the point that both are interconnected. She uses the studio as an extended version of herself, with which she breaks life’s monotony, plays and entertains, and proves that anything is possible.
The Studio: A Tireless, Ongoing Space: Geta Brătescu at the Camden Arts Centre (7 April – 18 June 2017)