The Virtual Gallery of the Contemporary Art from
the Republic of Moldova
The virtual Gallery of the contemporary art offers the possibility to get acquainted with the creation of over 50 known masters of Plastic and Decorative Arts from the territory of the Republic of Moldova. The aim of the Gallery doesn't consist in the exhaustive presentation of all genres, types and species of visual arts existing in Moldova, but to give some important reference points from the recent history of arts from the Prut-Nistrean regions and to present succinctly by images the creation structures of a group of artists from the Republic of Moldova belonging to the last three-four generations.
Being composed of five compartments (sculpture, painting, graphics, decorative and "alternative arts" from the frame KSAK) the virtual Gallery of arts includes over five hundred works from the collections of the National Art Museum of Moldova, the Exhibitional Centre of the Union of Plastic Artists "Constantin Brancusi" and from the particular collections of the plastic artists. All these works keep to the professional art constituted relatively late in Bessarabia only after 1887, the year when the first professional school of plastic arts was established in Chisinau (the so - called "school of Terinte Zubcu").
The oldest works presented in the virtual gallery are the sculptures performed by the well-known Bessarabian plastic artist Alexandru Plamadeala still in the inter-war years. The most recent works presented in the Gallery refer already to the third millennium being performed in the last two-three years.
The majority of the artists included into the Gallery are members of the Union of Plastic Artists from the Republic of Moldova. Among them there are participants from different artistic groups (such as the groups "Ten" and "Phantom") inclusively a big group of young artists that participate constant in the activities of the Centre of the Contemporary Art from Chisinau (KSAK).
It is worth mentioning to a great extent that the actual associations of the artists from the territory of the Republic of Moldova although they are juridically not direct successors of the first societies of artists from Bessarabia (of the type of "The Bessarabian Amateur Art Society" constituted so far as 1903), try, however, to revive the spirit of freedom of creation and of a free expression of opinion in art, the spirit oppressed more than fifty years by the "ideological" institutions and structures from the period of totalitarian regime that lasted with some minor intervals during the war and from 1940 up to the Declaration of the independence of the Republic in 1991.
The older artists included in the Gallery either activated in the inter-war period (the case with Alexandru Plamadeala) or got their education in that period (cases with Lazar Dubinovshi, Claudia Cobizev, Mihai Grecu, Ada Zevin etc). Many of the Bessarabian Plastic Artists that either launched themselves in the inter-war Romania or those that continued their studies after 1944 but were still closely connected with the antiwar problems of art as the region was occupied by the Union of the Soviet Socialist Republics (USSR) were forced after the war either to change radically their styles and manners of creating under the influence of the Soviet regime where only one method of creation existed - that of "socialist realism" - or to support the rigour and consequences of being accused of "formalism", "decadence" and "petty bourgeois art for art's sake".
The first 15 years that followed the World War II were the most drastic years, the years of forced constraints of the so-called "socialist realism" principle qualified actually by some of the critics as "socialist academicism" or "Stalinist academicism". Only towards the end of the 50-es and in the first half of the 60-es the generation of the Plastic Artists from the Republic of Moldova among them Mihai Grecu, Valentina Rusu-Ciobanu, Glebus Sainciuc, Igor Vieru, Ada Zevin, Ilia Bogdesco etc, managed to emancipate substantially their style, technique and subject of the works of their plastic or decorative arts. This emancipation coincided from the chronological point of view with the setting up of the so-called "austere style" in the former USSR, a reaction in the limits of realistic art to the dogmatic Stalinist academicism from the 40 - 50-es. Although the "austere style" didn't strike roots however in the republic the importance of the appearance of a heterogenic art foreign to the similar current promoted by the Academy of Arts of the USSR and by the "official ideology" in those years played a positive role. Thus, being far from the "austere style", the plastic metaphor expressed by Mihai Grecu in his triptych "The History of One Life" enjoyed a deserved success at the jubilee exhibition in 1967 in Moscow being declared by the critics as the best painting of that decade. Innovative processes took place not only in painting or graphics but also in the decorative art during the middle and towards the end of the 60-es. Much was written about Maria Saca-Racila, Elena Rotaru and Silvia Vranceanu's tapestries at the unional level, even the syntagm the "Moldavian School of the Artistic gobelin tapestry" being used. Interesting processes took place in these years in the sphere of ceramics, where the strictly applicative aspect is substituted by that in the "sculptural-decorative" and plastic figurative spirits.
"Underground" phenomena were registered only in the middle and at the end of the 70-es on the territory of the republic (the group from Balti, Stefan Sadovnicov etc.) and during the 80-es (the sculpture installation "Rust" from the Sculeni Barrier from Chisinau etc.) but they didn't have a great importance as the alternative groups from the great centres of the USSR (Moscow, Leningrad, Kiev, Riga, Tallinn, Livov, Novosibirsk, Odessa, etc.). These phenomena were somewhat limited in the Republic of Moldova because of the extremely limited contacts with the western art and the hardness of the communist government of the republic.
At the same time with Gorbaciov's "perestroika" (transparency), towards the end of the 80-es and the beginning of 90-es a vast process of liberalization was noted in the sphere of visual arts, censorship and the administrative interdictions to create or to expose the works of art.
After 1989 there appear groups of artists united by the same ideas and platforms of creation. To a great extent, however, with the exception of the participants of KSAK, they remain at the same time members of the Union of the Plastic Artists from the Republic of Moldova. This union of creation which considerably modified its cultural policy continues to be the greatest association of the Plastic Artists and masters of the Decorative Arts from the Republic of Moldova. These groups (the groups "Ten" or "Phantom") usually include 10 -15 artists and do not always have a doctrine or a theoretical program. These plastic artists' association in groups is very often made with the aim of organizing some concrete exhibitions or cultural manifestations. In any case, this group association doesn't affect the creative independence of the artists, everybody being able to maintain his/her individuality.
At the beginning of the 90-es of the XX century with the fall of the "iron wall" the cultural contacts among the plastic artists from the Republic of Moldova and Romania were intensified. The permanent expression of these contacts and collaborations is presented by the "Moldova's Art Salons" annually organized during more than a decade.
The exhibitions, seminars, creation camps and workshops organized by the Soros Centre of the Contemporary Art (SCCA), the actual Centre of the Contemporary Art from Chisinau (KSAK) began to play a more important role in the artistic life of the republic beginning with 1996. The exhibitions organized by this centre as well as the publication of the bulletin "art-hoc" have the aim to promote the "open society" ideals and the spectators' familiarization with the new tendencies and means of expression existing in the modern international art. It is necessary to add, however, that the creation camps (from Sadova, Radenii-Vechi etc.) or the workshops ceased to be lately "a monopoly" of KSAK. The city municipalities of the republic or some institutions of profile imply themselves to such types of manifestations. Thus, the creation camps of sculpture from Ungheni and the workshops dedicated to book graphics and the preparation of paper from the Faculty of Plastic Arts of the Pedagogical University "Ion Creanga" from Chisinau became a tradition. The Moldova Soros Foundation and the National Commission for UNESCO from the Republic of Moldova also take part in such manifestations.
Considerable changes took part in the activity of the Union of the Plastic Artists in the 90-es. The Union of the Plastic Artists was transformed from an organization promoting the Communist Party Program among the plastic artists which strictly "followed" all the deviations" from the socialist realism" norms into a voluntary association of the plastic artists and decorators united more by the professional interests (with an economic character) than on the base of a doctrine with an esthetic or enlightening character. The Union of the Plastic Artists actually publishes the magazine "Atelier" (Studio) where different interviews or short portraits of creation of the plastic artists from the Republic of Moldova are presented.
However, we must mention the fact that in spite of the liberalization of the possibilities of expression from the last decade and the appearance of private galleries in Chisinau and other towns of the republic (the galleries "Aorta", "Coral", "L-Gallery" etc.) the social and material state of the great majority of plastic artists considerably worsened in the Republic of Moldova. There disappeared to a great extent the state orders, and the museums being budgetary institutions with small allocations from the state diminished considerably the acquisitions of the works of the contemporary art etc. The period of transition to the market economy that lasts more than twelve years in the Republic of Moldova brought to the exorbitant increasing of the prices of maintenance of the workshops, to the suspension of the construction of new creation workshops, to the mass migration of the plastic artists and their works beyond the territory of their birthplace. The non-formed market of artistic values very often offers priority to bad works, kitsch, copies and reproductions of pictures of classical art. The contemporary professional art being neither marginalized ideologically nor administratively continues to be marginalized economically in the Republic of Moldova. In this way we should like the present "virtual Gallery" of the works of modern plastic and contemporary art to contribute to the improvement of the actually existing situation in our professional arts and to promote both on the domestic and the international arena the true talents that existed, exist and we are sure, will exist on our Prut-Nistrean region.
The author's group of the virtual Gallery