by Mirela Trăistaru
Originally from Bistrita, Mirela Trăistaru is considered an “unparalleled” artist. Not only for her remarkable talent, impressive achievements and career, but also due to the variety and complexity of her creation. She graduated from the Romulus Ladea High School of Visual Arts and the Ion Andreescu Academy of Visual Arts (Clothes Design and Painting Sections) from Cluj-Napoca, with a master’s degree in painting from the Bucharest University of Arts, currently a PhD student from the Western University of Timisoara, she is a painter , costume designer, graphic designer, set designer, specialist in body painting and monumental works, curator. He is curator of the Biennial of Art Book in Bucharest and of numerous international exhibitions.
She had personal and group exhibitions both in Romania and world-wide (Japan, China, South Korea, India, Switzerland, Holland, France, Poland, Denmark, Austria, Serbia, Bulgaria, Hungary, Ukraine, USA, Egypt, Morocco, Turkey ). She participated at art biennials in Lyon, Beijing and Cairo. Currently she has more then 60 personal exhibitions and more then 130 group shows, 21 theatre plays in which she signed costumes or stage design.
Few are those who know that Mirela Trăistaru has a rich activity in theatre and television starting 1995. She signed costumes and scenography in shows directed by Lucian Giurchescu, Sanda Manu, Gelu Colceag, Alexandru Tocilescu, Horatiu Malaele, Chris Simion, Ion Lucian, Ion Mircioaga or Anca Colteanu.
She illustrated books and had dozens of fashion presentations, being the winner of the first prize and trophy of the first four editions of Napoca Fashion, Cluj. She won, amongst other things, the Grand Jury Prize at the National Art Film Festival for the film Night of Sânziene and the Prize for debut at Magia Modei Festival, the Arts in Bucharest prize of the Romanian Artists’ Union and she is in the Top 100 catalog of the most valuable Romanian painters.
…Therefore, the situation is clear: All fish rhyme with all other fish. The glass fish with the broken fish, the fish from the “fish on the land” with the one from “ the fish beyond the sand”, the fish in the aquarium with the christlike fish, the fish from “ from the head it rots” with Cacoyannis’ “the day in which the fish come”, the fish from “a fish swims in its own tears” with the one from “run away faster than a goldfish forgets”, the fish from “the smallest bait catches the biggest fish” with the one in “ the fish, like the guest, is only good for two days” or, finally, the main characters from two similar proverbs : the first -”Fish are caught with a fishing rode, while man, is caught by words”, and the second, more relatable – “Like a fish between two cats so is a man between two layers” …
That being said, building on this demonstration of the strength of the extremely varied Romanian vocabulary, I think we can start building a temple of wonder … Yes, a wonder at what the artist Mirela Trăistaru, remarkably accompanied by Cristi Farcas, has accomplished.
Undoubtably, the mother of all fish is Mirela. With all chaos having a movingly divergent semantic, grandly wrapped in a provocative exhibition (curator: Daniel Sur), at the National Museum of Romanian Literature (congratulations MNLR, for the initiative to host this exhibition, offering almost all the spaces on the ground floor of the building!). And with a very ambitious title: Glass fish, glass world. Practically, all the allocated spaces compose a visually stunning essay about, what is a fish and what does it want, caught- technically speaking – in all possible situations. Huge paintings, collages, miniature graphics, multimedia versions, installations, all in a synesthetic distribution of an amazing synergy. The only thing missing being a seafood Borsch served in champagne flutes! Intrinsically, a necessary but unseen path is built by the professional curator (evidently, in full collaboration with Mirela Trăistaru!). This itinerary is clearly sensed. There is almost no need to ask yourself where you start from and where you step next, as frequently observed in cases where exhibitions have an incoherent panelling.
The central hall of the museum – the last of this itinerary – is in fact the key to the whole exhibition. If on a wall lays a parade of miniature fish, as graceful as waterlilies, the others are occupied by three large paintings, similar to frescoes. On the left, a strange painting, an older work, symbolizes a warning about what irrational globalization can bring: the decay and the disappearance of civilization. On the right, we have – in Mirela’s well-known manner – a lake covered in water lilies (maybe a fine irony directed at Monet of Giverny’s “Waterlilies”, or maybe not!, In the depth of which we fantasize swimming fish (in fact, it is mandatory to fantasize them, because we are forced to imagine, in addition to his previous assumptions, the fish in a virtual state!). The painting is covered in the mantle of a vegetation green hue that almost violates not only at visual level, but even at the hypothetical olfactory one; as by looking, anyone is hinted instantly with a lacustrine scent. Beyond Monet’s plausible irony , the huge painting is, if you will, the strength of the hidden nature. Or conversely, an artifact quasi-real. The sensation is synonymous with that moment of perception, through which Tzvetan Todorov, the famous theoretician (unfortunately, recently departed) defined – related to the strange (a temporary failure of the real) and miraculous (placing the credible in an assumed convention) – the fantasy genre : a dividing line between the two very thin, sensitive and trembling, transferred to the saying: It almost doesn’t seem true!
In total opposition to this image of a particular kind of vitalism, there is, on the exact opposite wall, another work, of the same size representing also a marsh landscape. Another lake, also depicting reeds and aquatic or hanging plants, (the whole specific biotope) in a polychromy a little different from green, using ocher, rust, red, yellow. This time, Mirela flips everything, overturns the whole semantic content of the romantic landscape imagined by the “blue forest lake / yellow water lilies” and conducts us in front of a muddy puddles, a starting point from which all visual landmarks flow.
The significance of the installation in the middle of the last room – the place where the whole story is decoded, where the Great Revelation appears: a real, but rather dilapidated fishing boat, lying on one side, starts from the title of the exhibition itself: Glass fish, glass world. It could have been on its own a living painting, entitled “Fishing boat resting”, only If it hadn’t been full of fish. Glass fish.
Fantastic picture! All glass fish are pulled from the top of communist era televisions, of all colors and sizes (even one 1 m long ) leaving us to wonder where that would have been placed, in the Romanian Golden Age living room, with its considerable size – it is a mystery!). I think there were over a hundred such glass fish of all kinds, translucent, opaque, transparent, fragile, and colored in the most vivid shades, from cobalt blue or blue-ciel to turquoise green or black- striped yellow. Frozen in different scenarios, with different physiognomies (probably even the glassblowers, when modeling the incandescent “face” of the fish, thought of certain known people, some nice, some unfriendly, as the case may be!).
Personally, this central module of the ensemble of artificiality otherwise very spectacular, the colossal vortex of senses, the maelstrom that absorbs all the semantic construction of the exhibition, seemed to me rather a metaphor of our time. It is more a gloss, an apophysics about dis-making, about dis-figuring, about dis-figuration. It is the symbol of a kind of prosopagnosia (from gr. Prosopon = face and agnosis = ignorance), this is how the mental disorder manifested by the inability to recognize a familiar figure is called. We no longer recognize ourselves.
Communism – the drama that we have lived for so many decades – has disfigured us for several generations, confined us in anonymous figures, without identity, emptied us inside and transformed us all into cold beings, inert, without soul, without will, without power. Human kitsches that are dry, stubborn, stiff, unobtrusive, blunt and, moreover, sad and naked. unexpressive Glass fish. What was missing from that boat was a net.
Therefore, I believe Mirela Traistaru’s glass fish before all rhyme with, first and foremost, grief. With suffering. With bitterness. With sadness.
And, only after that, with ecology, ethology, biogeography, etc.
ABOUT MIRELA TRĂISTARU
Mirela Trăistaru`s painting must be looked at with much care and precaution, for the appearance of a comfortable and easily identifiable image hides, in a paradoxical manner, one of the trickiest traps. The fact that the artist doesn`t rely on imagination, nor does she explore the unpredictable language games, meanwhile refusing to refer to misleading and provocative combinations, doesn`t mean that she offers ready-made images or that she stops in her program at creating for the viewer a comfort feeling, by flattering his visual memory and exciting, with generosity, his retina.
As strange as it may seem, the painter`s artistic view is much closer to the profound and epic world of Liviu Rebreanu, and, at the same time, at an astronomical distance from our artistic contemporary experiences, undecided between propagandist loquaciousness and expression fraud. But, despite this deep state of facts, Mirela Traistaru is, indisputably a contemporary artist, that is, one that questions the nature of the message, one that proposes attitudes and one that explores and recycles both the individual and the collective memory.
Her shapes repertoire, from the luxuries and sensual heavenly landscape painting, to the deep folkloric ornament and morphology, that doesn`t require any reading or identification effort, are doubled by a unifying attitude, by an organic understanding of our symbolic existence, without any dysfunction at a temporal or spacial level. Her contemporaneity consists, on one side, of conscience continuity and memory reactivation, and on another side, of meditating on the human condition as the collective and unifying experience. What seems, at first sight, as familiar and easily recognizable, transforms, by multiplying vision and living intensity, in a major experience of knowing and after recreating our unique and irreplaceable nature itself.