The Romanian sculptor uses the labyrinth, the spiral, the hexagon and more, showing the questions of meaning, time, transcendence…
To understand the works of art of Ana Maria Negară, it is best to call to mind the cave drawings from the earliest times: what was depicted there goes – perhaps – far beyond the mere figures of animals or people – they may be symbols with which the artists of that time also represented their thoughts. The works of the Romanian sculptor are also full of ancient symbols, for example, her many variations on the theme of the labyrinth: a labyrinth abstractly and alienated represents the path through life to a destination, with errors and confusions, but in the end, yet purposeful. Quite different, by the way, is the maze, another such symbolic representation, which, however, as the name suggests, only leads astray.
In the work “The Flower of Life,“ for example, Ana Maria Negară draws on the ancient flower of life, geometrically speaking on the hexagon. This is also encountered in the honeycombs.
The spiral is also such a motif of humanity, sometimes meant as a vortex that engulfs life, sometimes as a transition to another world.
This brings us to the traditions of art, and these are, in theoretical terms, the great subject of Ana Maria Negară. After studying sculpture at the George Enescu University of Arts in the city of Iasi, she went on to complete a doctorate in performing Visual Arts. Her thesis was on “Tradition and modernity in contemporary sculpture,“ and she came to a sober conclusion: the artists who see themselves as modern can only do so on the basis of tradition, and what is more, the criticism of tradition by the modernists has itself become a good tradition.
Nevertheless, in her work she simultaneously sides with the modernists, as we read in the English abstract: “I fully agree with the desire of the artists to seek new and originality at all costs.“ She writes “at all costs“ and, indeed, Ana Maria Negară, is argumentative and, we suspect, will not avoid debate at the numerous sculpture symposia to which she is invited, and will also make her positions clear to students at her current activity at the university.
However, besides seriousness, we also found self-irony and humor in her art. So, there are a few photos of her with yoga gesture sitting on top of a labyrinth column, and of course we wanted to know more details about it.
She put up with our question and answered openly: she had arrived in that situation, so to speak, at the destination point of that labyrinth path, and she casually notes that she also means the necessary rest after some drudgery on the granite pillar.
On the other hand, she said, it is also part of her to experience joy and fun in sculpting: “it is my lifestyle, or rather my philosophy of life, to joke about any problems or any kind of challenges.“
Finally, such a labyrinth also represents weeks of mental work because that is how long she spends preparing to conceive the course of the lines.
In the patterns that she then puts on the stone, the viewer can in turn discover hidden symbols and go with her on the mental journey.
Ana Maria Negară grew up with art-loving parents who, had they had the chance, would probably have become artists themselves. The mother was a teacher of literature and practiced performance gymnastics. The father took courses in painting but became an engineer because his parents wanted him to.
In high school, she herself first became involved with wood “because it smells so good and has such great colors.“ What she did not like about it, however, was its transience.
Then, at an art festival in, of all places, the city of Constantin Brancusi, she discovered stone and “fell irreparably in love with this material … which demands everything from the sculptor; energy, time, attention, gentleness and love,“ as she writes.
And further, “Like other materials, stone responds to the passion and energy that the sculptor transmits when working.“ In addition to a very rational view of things, her perception of the world is characterized by a search for transcendence and the things between heaven and earth.
“I practice a transdisciplinary approach to sculpture, I want to combine and to bring together elements from art, science, philosophy, and theology, which is precisely why I consider that both types of art are (tradition and modernity) equally deep, beautiful, loaded with meaning and significance. “
(23.06.2023, USA: 06.23.2023)