Artist Statement

Vlad Basarab

My life as an artist has focused on my relationships to nature and people. It is an organic and ever-changing process filtered through my psyche and interiorized responses to my experiences.

The work is predominantly sculptural and usually has a symbolic or spiritual meaning. In my earlier sculptures or sculptural installations entitled: The tree of Life, Bottle as Life, Transcendental Structures, I attempted to represent my ideas about spiritual aspirations leading towards a higher dimension. The notion of transcendence was a major theme in all of these works.

In the past twenty years, I have been working in various areas such as: painting (oil), drawing, ceramics (pottery and sculpture), sculpture (figures and installation), video, performance and photography. Ceramics has been the major medium I have continued to explore because I find that clay as a material metaphorically embodies the most dynamic qualities of life and nature. Since my main source of inspiration is nature, seen as an ever-changing process, I saw in clay a natural material that undergoes transformation from volcanic eruptions to the breaking down and weathering of mountains. The creative process of working with clay from the making to the firing is inherently transformational in nature. These attributes of clay have allowed me to make parallels between the natural world and the spiritual evolution of people.

The main source of inspiration for my artwork has been the human figure. My interest does not lie in copying nature, but in the attempt to capture its essence. By working with the figure, I am interested in expressively revealing emotions and gestures. These ideas are also explored in my installations.

In the past seven years, I have been exploring the fields of video and performance, which I find to be powerful ways to express my ideas and feelings. In Romania, California and Alaska, I have been collaborating with other artists, actors and dancers in performances and videos. This has been a rich and insightful experience that made me acknowledge the fact that by working in a group, we can arrive at complex and meaningful messages.

I expect my work to be inspiring, moving and thought provoking. Most of the ideas for my performances reflect my pragmatic concerns as to how to survive to pay the bills and still maintain the intensity that is needed to be an artist. The past seven years have made me sacrifice my creative life to a degree, but it has also allowed me to develop in ways I never imagined. The lack of time for making art has made me perform the creative act with a great deal of intensity. The inability to create due to lack of time, being stuck or not being able to create became the main ideas for a few performances such as: Palnia Under Construction, Stasis, and Death. The idea of the artist not being able to create anymore was an idea I developed in those works. Being "stuck" or in a creative rut that I could not emerge from is something that many artists go through. This dramatic situation pushed me towards performance works and installations. All my performances and installations end up involving a lot of labor in constructing them and this aspect is also illustrated by the work performed by all participants. Hard work and labor has been a big part of my life as well as an underlying thread of my work on a symbolic level.

Although I was trained as a visual artist predominantly working in the areas of ceramics and sculpture, I have discovered that creating performances allowed me to address my ideas in a more direct way. Transforming a space was very important in creating an environment in which the performance would take place. I like the contrast between the organic, fluid qualities of the human body and the heaviness and brute look of a construction site. Unlike a theater performance, where the props are simply an additive feature as a background element of the decorative scenery, I decided to take a different approach in my performances. The space of my performances is like an installation that changes throughout the performance. So, the performers take an active role in changing the installation. All performances that I have directed or co-directed were collaborations with other artists. My first performances took place in Romania and were done with the group Palnia, (The Funnel), of which I am a founding member.

The connection to my past in Romania as well as my strong ties with the cultural, artistic and spiritual world of Eastern Europe influence my creative process. Although I have lived and been partially trained in the United States in the past 15 years, spiritually I am more connected to Romania. The nostalgia of my past, as well as the fact that I spiritually project myself in that space play an important role as far as who I am as an artist.

 

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