100 Creatives

100 Creatives 2012: Radu Runcanu, Painter from Romania

Radu Runcanu was interested in all sorts of things when he arrived in the United States from Transylvania. From an artistic stance, the painter, drawer and sculptor was awfully curious about how his Old World background would intersect with Houston, which must have looked like the newest of the New World compared to Runcanu's native Romania.

The discoveries have been plenteous and the transition has been swift: Runcanu scored a job at the Museum of Fine Arts, Houston and he recently had his first exhibition, at Box 13 ArtSpace.

He's also at work in the studio, where the finished products, which tend toward paintings, are informed by drawing and sculpture.

"I'm trying to build my message through painting and drawing," says Runcanu. "After a long period, sculpture was my favorite language. From my experience with the big blocks of stone, I kept the tendencies to simplicity and unity of art, leaving behind random accidents and anecdotic frivolity. However, the big, ample shapes and a clear proportion between the full and the empty space still remain on canvas."

What he does? Runcanu's style could be described as figurative abstraction and his artworks are usually realized via some deep thoughts.

"I'm focusing on investigating the symbolic dimensions, the complex universe (whatever that would be) hidden behind everyday objects and images. In my art, I am using objects, human bodies, landscapes or media images to build ideas, not to represent them.

"That is, to build individual, subjective histories with a hieratic appearance (if not quite an 'aura'). What I am searching to capture when representing these objects -- being contemporary or historical imagery, still-frames from a TV broadcast or a simple tablecloth -- is their timelessness. More exactly, their status as vehicles for a message with many possible reading levels: a message from the contemporary mythology."

Why he likes it? "Art is the place where all my knowledge, my intelligence and the physical strength get together, find the same path and give me freedom," says Runcanu. "Art is part of my DNA and it enables me to search, to discover and to live in an endless and beautiful abstract world."

What inspires him? According to Runcanu, it's a brew of "present and past feelings, images of places and objects from my personal symbolism; a universe made of thoughts and sensations, fears and desires, my inner world."

If not this, then what? "I don't know. An obscure guitar player or a starving writer, but I also could be a very meticulous guy doing organic agriculture somewhere in a small village."

If not here, then where? Two things Houston can't ever provide. (Don't take it personally, Houston.) "Ooooooh, I have to be frank, I miss the cold weather and the old cities of Europe," he says.

What's next? More thoughts, more explorations, more shows, moremoremore.

"Continuing my adventure into this infinite world of ideas, trying to get closer to my expectations and hoping that I'll have the opportunity to show my work to the American public."

More Creatives for 2012 (In order of most recently published; click here for the full page).

Ariane Roesch, Mixed-Media Sandie Zilker, art jewelry maker Philip Hayes, actor Patrick Palmer, painter Ana Mae Holmes, Jewelry Designer John Tyson, actor Jerry Ochoa, violinist and filmmaker Raul Gonzalez, painter, sculptor, photographer Roy Williams, DJ of medieval music Laura Burlton, photographer David Peck, fashion designer Rebecca Udden, theater director Donae Cangelosi Chramosta, vintage designer handbag dealer Paul Fredric, author John Sparagana, photographer Damon Smith, musician and visual artist Geoff Winningham, photographer Johnathon Michael Espinoza, visual artist Jaemi Blair Loeb, conductor Katya Horner, photographer Johnathan Felton, artist Nicoletta Maranos, cosplayer Carol Simmons, hair stylist Joseph "JoeP" Palmore, actor, poet Greg Carter, director Kenn McLaughlin, theater director Justin Whitney, musician Antone Pham, tattoo artist Susie Silbert, crafts Lauralee Capelo, hair designer Marisol Monasterio, flamenco dancer Carmina Bell, promoter and DJ ReShonda Tate Billingsley, writer Kiki Lucas, choreographer and director J.J. Johnston, theater director Mary Margaret Hansen, artist Richard Tallent, photographer Viswa Subbaraman, opera director Emily Sloan, sculptor and performance artist Sonja Roesch, gallery owner Enrique Carreón-Robledo, conductor Sandy Ewen, musician Camella Clements, puppeteer Wade Wilson, gallery owner Magid Salmi, photographer Carl Williams, playwright

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Steve Jansen is a contributing writer for the Houston Press.
Contact: Steve Jansen