I have come across your work on the field of fashion, particularly your focus on conceptual design. Your expertise and insights in this field are remarkable.
Please introduce yourself as a Romanian artist. What about your work is influenced by your cultural context, values, world view, political climate etc? (compared to if you were e.g., a British artist or Hungarian artist). What are your key mediums and the themes you are most passionate about currently?
Romania is not a very big country, with an extremely interesting position from a geographical point of view, being a strategic node of relations between the countries of Central and Eastern Europe, the region of which it is a part. But, historically speaking, this position made it vulnerable because of its neighborhood with communist countries, which had a strong influence on it, itself going through a totalitarian regime for more than 40 years. The generations that lived in Romania at that time were deeply marked by the lack of freedom of expression, identity development, personality uniformity, various other deprivations and in recent years, until 1989, by the acute lack of basic food. The children, and later the young people of those times, suffered from these needs, the only positive thing was that they had access to a safe form of education and performance in the field of culture and arts, but in a censorious manner.
The transition that followed after the fall of the regime is probably still going on, after more than 30 years. These generations were subjected to many challenges in discovering their vocation and, more than that, learning to survive in a country where everything was unstable. Based with this background we talk about fashion. But the passion for this field, as for the arts in general, painting, music, literature, etc. was present and the young people showed exacerbated desires to deepen these fields and to stand out through their creation. I am part of this category and I know what it means to fight for an ideal, to follow and respect your talent with sanctity. I left home for the country's capital, to discover a chance to develop this artistic ability. After many experiences, I managed to enter the Faculty of Arts. It was the biggest success. Thus, with a lot of work and enormous sacrifices, I managed to do the performance. For this reason, I encourage all those who have a talent to go on this path of their own identity, because the human being is capable of generating a lot of emotion, imagination and metaphor, our so precious food of the human being and I think that the imaginary is man's greatest treasure, more important than industrial oil.
You don't have to be in another place to create because you are the fruit of the place you come from, your art resembles the place you are from and that feeds your feelings that you previously placed there, creation is in you. So if I was a British designer I would probably be someone else, I no longer had this background that hides deep sufferings of me and my people, and what it is like to yearn for freedom.
The theme of artistic activism on existential issues, such as war, fundamental human rights, anti-violence or humanitarian crises, will probably be recurring themes in my creations.
At the same time, I am interested in innovative approaches in the interpretation of stylistic concepts, such as sports or classic clothes, in a manner of strong interconnection with art, in order to conceptualize them and to see the result, which most of the time is extremely surprising. I still cannot say that I only want to do these objects in order to be exhibited in the important Galleries, an art that is based on the outfit and that acquires introspective connotations when it is hybridized with conceptual elements, which follow a philosophical vein or a powerful life experience lived by myself. It is possible that these visual productions with cognitive-emotional semantics are actually some augmented repressions of what I experience on a personal level. I haven't decided whether to go into fashion area exclusively, a field that fascinates me deeply and whose potential I also want to exploit through the imaginative input that characterizes me, that is very quickly and consistently, in a note, for example, neo-couture in which elements of the nature of 3D print, insertions of unconventional materials or modification of stylistic consciousness, lead to an unusual and authentic result. All I know is that all these things coexist and are waiting to be revealed for me as an artist, but more, for people, to make them believe in art and the feelings it can activate and to give them another dimension / perspective of life.
You take into account such diverse sources of inspiration, with deep themes referring to existentialism and anthropological values. What exactly sends you in this particular area? Please connect this to what's happening in Romania and the wider world right now.
Art can be a voice carrier of an individual to say what he feels and more to try to create a kind of moral civilization, but above all it was about revealing the fact that creativity is important and that it takes us much further than the flat, realistic aspect of the world, in an idealizing form of it, where we feel much more comfortable, and, perhaps, more full of hope.
Romania is a country involved in the mixer of virulent socio-political aspects at the international level. But, unlike other countries, which have a clearly higher economic level than our country, it is impacted in a deeper way by the problem of inflation, for example, which appears in a rather precarious context in terms of the national systems of social establishment, namely education, the public health system, cultural institutions that are struggling with the post-pandemic phenomenon of cancel culture, the lack of social allowances, the massive migration of Romanians to other countries and, more recently, the large influx of Ukrainian refugees, but in this case it is imperative to mention the fact that the government with the help of the direct involvement of the Romanian citizens, managed this humanitarian crisis in an exemplary manner.
All these things are so relevant for artists to be able to speak openly about them, to empathize in a deep way with those affected by these traumatic things and to participate actively, through an interpretive manner but also to be able to find solutions with this type of artistic discourse.
How do you see the future of humanity in terms of clothing production? In terms of stylistic evolution and sustainability? Please ground this in the context of Romania i.e. Romanian production, textiles, style, role in driving sustainable practices.
We are in the midst of the age of consumerism, on the one hand the products exacerbated by fast fashion are appearing in the profile market through the giants in the field such as the Brands of the Spanish Company Inditex and, on the other hand, the Luxury Groups, such as be the LVMH Concern, to which it is added, in terms of the way to buy large online platforms such as Farfetch or its rival Yoox Net-a-Porter. These manufacturing industries consume material resources and industrial, chemical processes, which in turn produce negative effects on the environment and overload the work capacity, especially in underdeveloped countries, where companies have, for the most part, their production premises. Due to the disastrous effects on the climate caused by the industry, the clothing, textile and leather industry has an important share.
In the last few years, large companies has already developed a program to collect waste from the oceans, to recycle and transform them into material to make sports shoes, also, in a register of progressive luxury brands they have introduced Eco-friendly Clothing in the garments range, respecting the principles of circularity. We stand up and speak up for Mother Earth. None of collections contain leather, feathers, fur or exotic skins, and none of the glues used in production of shoes or bags come from animals either. Also, the new brands are recognized for upcycling modality in their business, which refers to the procurement of clothes that have gone out of use, unused stocks, etc. and gives them the status of wearable clothing by disassembling and recomposing a clothing item. However, there will be a long way to go until the re-orientation of the major part of the profile industry towards sustainable production actions, because this process involves radical changes that can affect jobs in the short and medium term and implicitly the profit of the companies, for these reasons the change will be done with small steps and a lot of research work to discover new possibilities and solutions.
On the other hand, the stylistic value, which implies a superior creative quality, also has to be lost, given that fast fashion production has a galloping pace, in the spectrum of delivery - reception. As long as we become devourers of basic styled objects because there are no alternatives, we can expect the uniformity of the collective mentality and, ultimately, the diminution of our creative faculties in all spheres of our lives. Even so, the big luxury brands try to associate with each other through their design departments and produce stylistically hybridized products, a fact that can be gratifying for future in terms of innovative artistic evolution.
In Romania, an investment infrastructure and a firm awareness of the major importance of these changes are needed to fulfill a nature-positive mission and to combine nature's gifts with cutting-edge innovation. Although there are timid aspects in terms of local production in this sense, the trend is to align with these standards by using ecological materials, by approaching craftmanship solutions in accordance with the attempt to preserve the vein of traditional inspiration in the thematic compositions of current Romanian fashion. Tandems between sportswear and folklore styles, the reinterpretation of the Romanian Blouse in an experimental manner, using unconventional materials, or consistent manifestations in terms of conceptual fashion are notable contemporary landmarks of this phenomenon of artistic expression in the increasingly visible concerns of Romanian designers even internationally, regarding their exposure.How would you describe the art, design and fashion scene in Romania? What are the key influences, who are the big figures, what are the trending styles right now? What's mainstream and what's subverting/challenging the mainstream and why?
The contemporary art scene in Romania is in continuous development, many important artists exhibit their works in large-scale events such as MNAC's Opening of the spring and autumn Exhibitions and National Contemporary Art Salons, Art Safari Bucharest or in international environments such as the Venice Biennale, but also in the many private Art Galleries.
The Romanian fashion context is starting to take on new dimensions of creative expression, important names have launched their collections on national and international catwalks with a creative force and artistic determination. Also, graduates from relevant universities, see UNArte Bucharest, UAD Cluj or UVT Timisoara, young designers who reveal a new vision on experimental manifestations in the field.
The intense activity carried out by the Creative Industries in Romania, platforms that brings to the fore events connected to the newest artistic manifestations in the field of design and applied arts, represents an excellent startup in this sector where creativity meets entrepreneurship, making strong connections between private and state institutions to support development in design and innovation.
In terms of style, different forms of approach to stylistic analysis were born, blogs, Instagram pages with different young authors who try to classify fashion trends in Romania, but as important figures in this area, there remain the stylists from major Magazines, who provide a real education in style and thus they are the most important trendsetters of the moment.
Mainstream clothing items are based on the visual culture of Romania in recent years, which tries to align itself with European culture, based on art, architecture, traditions, literature, philosophy, religious beliefs, ethnicity, etc. and which also includes elements of alternative culture inspired by video productions from national and international showbiz, marketing – advertising campaigns, social media promotion of the stylistic approaches of large companies. Thus, we meet a mix of these cultural influences by identifying different archetypal elements, such as symbols of belonging to an artistic, musical current or outfits with fashion trends of the last seasons (products that appear in the specialty market). A clothing item widely spread in Romania as well is the jeans which are worn in different combinations, with Romanian blouses (IE), with short tops, highlighting a part of the underwear, for both, girls and boys. On another stylistic level, we quite often find clothes that are based on the dissonant approach to the composition, namely the deconstruction of the pattern, dark colors, in the manner of Japanese designers, in a wasabi cult. What is not mainstream in Romania is this typically western approach, namely the exacerbation of the queer style in clothing.
Unfortunately, with the outbreak of these armed conflicts that have generated so many atrocities and continue to leave victims and a lot of suffering to the peoples directly involved but also indirectly at the global level, we have observed that there is a lot of brutality and latent tribalism.
All these events will have long-term repercussions and will affect the cultural and artistic sectors on several levels. But, as every time, in the vicinity of such unfortunate events, artists, voices from literature and music, join in issuing pacifist messages of reconciliation between the parties involved in the conflict and to campaign through their art for the eradication of such ways of pseudo-communication, and to make the masses aware of the need to defend life and its quality.
This type of events cannot leave you indifferent, especially as an artist, as a hypersensitive human being who is deeply marked by the significance of destructive acts towards those around you. Such an intense experience motivated me to create the War Melt Project that visually transcribes the defenseless condition of contemporary man, of vulnerability and of the need to sharpen resistance in front of an enemy without moral scruples and without identification with a human being of a high evolutionary level on the spiritual scale.
The present shapes us and the past motivates us one more time, that we have to fight even with artistic means-weapons to defend our freedom and the right to life. Creating is about to overcome the superficial, fundamentalism, stereotyping and involution, regression, which is more serious than all.I saw that you increased your academic studies, how do you combine the two branches of artistic representation, through theory and practice, of research and self-expression as an artist?
I wanted to make this work to show my absolute love for designers and artists, in general, to pass through my own emotional filter their works through a deep analysis, to look for metaphor in each work, which caused me some astonishing revelations. I wanted to show with this doctoral approach how deep the question is, where does art come from? And I discovered, after in the first year of faculty I read Heidegger with his incredible The Origin of the Work of Art, Denis Dutton's The Art Instinct or the cosmic impulse according to another author, while Otto Rank, in Art and Artist talks about the myth of the hero in the work, extremely interesting hypotheses, on which I promise to talk more in a separate publication.
At the same time, this deepening supports my reflection on the subjects I approach, because it is extremely provocative to go as far as possible in the depths of a concept. I discovered new artists and the global links between the arts, the intimate discourses about the art of many artists. There are common points between the two approaches, theoretical and practice, actually I rediscovered myself and the fact that all these artists, that rewrite the history of art again and again show us a wonderful face of a new reality, and the world will be safe as long as art exists.
In picture Alexandra Cornei, Contemporary Dancer