Old Brompton Gallery presents Compass…

Art and auctions, Events, Exhibitions — By on September 29, 2015 at 9:41 PM
Alina Teodorescu (left) and Michaela Vergottis, with Alina’s acrylic works Parallel Solitudes and Hugging Angels.

Alina Teodorescu (left) and Michaela Vergottis, with Alina’s acrylic works Parallel Solitudes and Hugging Angels.

Old Brompton Gallery presents Compass: multi-layered work by versatile London artist Alina Teodorescu

By James Brewer

Within the compass of 17 powerful works on show at the Old Brompton Gallery, Alina Teodorescu is exploring profound aspects of the human condition.

Romanian-born Alina, who has lived in London for the past four years, says that she is absorbing “like a sponge” all she can of the capital’s vibrant contemporary art scene, but it is clear that she has developed her own highly original style.

In addition to these ongoing influences, her approach is informed by her early years painting on glass in churches alongside her father, the late Ilie Teodorescu, who was a highly respected art teacher.

Alina has entitled her series Compass. The reference is to the metaphor advanced by the 13thcentury poet and mystic Rumi for individual journeys of faith and doubt, in which one leg of a compass for drawing is seen as a fixed set of beliefs and the other leg draws a broad circle that embraces much else in the world. A 14th century successor, Hafiz, wrote The Golden Compass(Turn your back on those/ Who would imprison your wondrous spirit/ With deceit and lies/.. .Look at the Perfect One/ At the circle’s centre/ He spins and whirls like a Golden Compass).

Michaela Vergottis (left) and Alina Teodorescu with Alina’s oil on canvas Empatic Existence.

Michaela Vergottis (left) and Alina Teodorescu with Alina’s oil on canvas Empatic Existence.

Alina depicts seemingly tortured or ghostly human figures poised between ethereal and real worlds, hovering in tangled dilemmas and wrenching emotions. There are intense interactions between opposites: good and evil, frivolity and spirituality, rigour and volatility.

Her exhibition illustrates her ease with varied forms of medium, from iPad digital prints on glossy photographic paper, to oil and acrylic on canvas, to works on glass.

As a multi-media artist, she experiments with process but says: “It is not a question of mediums. To me it does not make a difference if you paint on a classic canvas or make a sketch on a wall. No matter what technique or medium I use, these works still look like they are mine.

“I am very much attracted by transparency, and overlapping surfaces letting the line go through.  I started working on Plexiglas and acrylic glass, a very resistant material that won’t break.” This technique she developed for one of her signature works entitled A personal journey of faith and doubt, which relates to the central theme of Rumi.

Alina Teodorescu with her mixed media work A Personal Journey of Faith and Doubt.

Alina Teodorescu with her mixed media work A Personal Journey of Faith and Doubt.

It is executed in acrylic on fabric and painted acrylic glass. In February 2015 Alina had a residency in with an art organisation in Rio de Janeiro, and while there she found that a dynamic effect could be achieved by overlapping the acrylic glass on the canvas. In fact the drawing on the glass gets projected onto the canvas. She discovered a new phenomenon in that the proximity of the surfaces creates electrostatic energy, which attracts drops from her paintbrush – the drops give a certain depth and spontaneity to the drawing. “So it was a mixture between accident and controlled brush strokes, ” says Alina. “Overall, the figure is quite controlled, but each brush stroke is a mixture between control and accident.”

Her fascination with glass as a medium dates from her early painting in churches and from working with other creative people later. “I studied mural art in high school, so we worked a lot on glass. We even painted icons on glass.”

Alina is an admirer of Marcel Duchamp (1887-1968), the French painter and sculptor who insisted that life itself is art, writing “It is only society that makes a distinction between art and the rest.” A master chess player, he saw the game and its pieces as a pure form of art.

Born in the somewhat isolated small mountain town of Slanic Moldova, Alina graduated from Ion Mincu University of Architecture and Urbanism, Bucharest, and undertook postgraduate study in design at the Istituto Europeo di Design, Milan, and in art at Sotheby’s Institute of Art in London. She had a career in interior design before devoting herself wholly to painting.

She said of London: “It is the place to be. You are always on the move. If you keep on working, you create a certain fluency in your work. The beauty of living in London is that you have the great opportunity to see such a variety of art. My main purpose is to learn.”

Her first exhibition was based on pages of her diary (written in Romanian on her phone), at a point when she felt it was transcendental to other people’s lives, but since then she has decided to keep her diary private.

As with her display at the Old Brompton Gallery, her artistic focus has often been on the human body. She had a show entitled Fashion for the body, Art for the Soul, at Maria Grachvogel’s Chelsea boutique; and Bodies at Playboy Club, Old Park Lane. The latter brought out the contrast between people’s humanity and frivolity, with the “carnal, flesh textures contrasting with geometrical elements that come to me from the Byzantine icons I used to paint with my father.”

Alina has also exhibited in Bangkok, Shenzhen, Bucharest and Beirut, and lectured on applying digital technology in the arts.

Since opening in April 2015 under the direction of Michaela Vergottis, Old Brompton Gallery has kept to its promise of offering thought-provoking exhibitions from established and emerging contemporary artists.

Compass, works by Alina Teodorescu, is at Old Brompton Gallery, 238 Old Brompton Rd, London SW5, until October 12 2015.

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