Visionary artist Geta Brătescu (b. 1926), a pivotal figure in the history of post-war Romanian art and Romania’s representative for this year’s Venice Biennale, is celebrated at the Camden Arts Centre with a major exhibition that spans a lifetime of creation through media as diverse as performance, textiles, collage, print-making, installation and film.
Living and working in Bucharest throughout Ceauşescu’s totalitarian regime, Brătescu embraced the studio as an autonomous space, free from economic or political influences. Her London exhibition, the biggest dedicated to her in Great Britain to present, will focus on this lifelong approach to the studio as a performative, contemplative and critical space to reflect on one’s own position in the world. Concerned with identity and dematerialisation, Brătescu conjures questions of ethics and femininity through her longstanding curiosity in mythical and literary figures, including Aesop, Faust, Beckett and Medea. These concepts have underlain much of her work through experiments in material rearrangements, charting the movement of her hands, the disappearance or concealment of her own image, and performing to the camera through her photographic series and films.
The project, entitled 'Geta Brătescu. The Studio: A Tireless, Ongoing Space', is set up by the Camden Arts Centre in association with Museum of Fine Arts, Ghent, with the support of Romanian Cultural Institute and the Geta Brătescu Exhibition Circle.
Geta Brătescu lives and works in Bucharest. During the second half of the 1940s, she studied at the School of Letters and Philosophy of the University of Bucharest and at Bucharest’s Academy of Fine Arts, though for political reasons she was unable to complete her art education until 1971. Through the 1950s and 1960s, she worked primarily as a graphic designer, eventually becoming the artistic director of the art magazine Secolul 20. The most innovative and experimental period of her career began in the 1970s, when she expanded her practice to include performance and recorded performance, photography, photocollage, and textile-based works, all underpinned by a strong conceptual framework. Her most recent solo exhibitions were staged at Hamburger Kunsthalle (2016); Tate Liverpool (2015); CAM, St. Louis (2015); Berkeley Art Museum (2014); MUSAC, León (2013); and Salonul de Proiecte, Bucharest (2012). Her work has been featured in major group exhibitions such as: Construction to Transmission: Art in Eastern Europe and Latin America, 1960-1980, Museum of Modern Art, New York (2015); Straight to Camera: Performance for Film, Modern Art Oxford; 5th Moscow Biennale of Contemporary Art, Moscow (2013); Il Palazzo Enciclopedico, La Biennale di Venezia, Venice (2013); and A Bigger Splash: Painting After Performance Art, Tate Modern, London (2012); IntenseProximity, La Triennale Paris, Paris (2012); and Istanbul Biennial (2011). In 2008, she was awarded the title Doctor Honoris Causa from the National University of Arts, Bucharest, for her contribution to the advancement of contemporary Romanian art.