Dawid Radziszewski

Serban Savu

Born 1978, lives and works in Cluj (RO). Graduated in 2001 from the University of Art and Design, Cluj.
The years of Şerban Savu’s youth shall cover the period of rapid political and economic changes in Central and Eastern Europe. In 1989, when in Romania the regime of Nicolae Ceaușescu was overthrown in a bloody manner, Savu was 11 years old. He received his artistic education at the University of Arts in Cluj-Napoca, where he studied with artists such as Victor Man and Adrian Ghenie. Shortly after, their work was included in the new wave of Romanian painting, known as “School of Cluj”.

What distinguishes Savu from his colleagues is his realistic style and para-documentary knack. However, the realism of his paintings has little in common with socrealistic doctrine, which in the past was prominent in Romanian art. Crucial for him is the classic tradition of European painting, particularly Italian and French. In Savu’s works, we see echoes of Leon Battista Alberti’s assumptions, idyllic landscapes of Poussin and Lorrain, and finally depictions of peasants by Pieter Bruegel and Jean-Frainçois Millet. These inspirations set in contemporary Romanian landscape became part of a melancholic tale of a fallen empire somewhere on the borders of the civilized world.

Works in collections

Museum of Modern Art, Warsaw, PL
Hort Family Collection, New York, US
Zabludowicz Collection, London, UK

 
Şerban Savu
Communal Road
2019
oil on board
35 × 50 cm

Şerban Savu
Communal Road
2019
oil on board
35 × 50 cm

Şerban Savu
Communal Road
2019
oil on board
35 × 50 cm


Here, Savu re-worked an anecdote and image that circulated Romanian media during the 2010 floods. The Romanian Minister of Waters and Forests came to visit the affected sites in a "regular car" rented for the occasion to fit in with the local people and get good press out of it. But the old car wasn't suitable for the flooded roads and it got stuck, of course. The way Savu paints nature – the trees, birds, and landscape in general, taking revenge on the humans – is a clear reference to traditional art history and Bruegel.

Şerban Savu
Have You Ever Been to Abrud?2019 
oil on canvas
198 × 148 cm

Şerban Savu
Have You Ever Been to Abrud?2019
oil on canvas
198 × 148 cm

Şerban Savu
Have You Ever Been to Abrud?2019
oil on canvas
198 × 148 cm


Şerban Savu
Refuge
2019
oil on canvas
141 × 198 cm

Şerban Savu
Refuge
2019
oil on canvas
141 × 198 cm

Şerban Savu
Refuge
2019
oil on canvas
141 × 198 cm


The starting point for this painting was a well-known theme recurring in art history: the flight into Egypt, a story recounted in the Gospel of Matthew. The girl in the painting is wearing blue and red – traditional colors of Virgin Mary, and the man might be taken for Joseph, the guardian of baby Christ. However the painting is not a religious one and is rather a contemporary commentary. Savu depicted himself and his wife as the main characters. The setting is timeless and universal, but it emphasizes the restlesness of the society, a state too often experienced by mankind.

Şerban Savu
Before the Game 
2019
acrylic on board

Şerban Savu
Before the Game
2019
acrylic on board

Şerban Savu
Before the Game
2019
acrylic on board


This painting was inspired by a bus full of Liverpool F.C. supporters, which Serban Savu saw on his way to Villa Borghese in Rome. He found this image to be atypical yet inspiring, especially the thin line between euphoria and aggression encountered midday in such a serene setting.
In his painting he replaced the vehicle with an old bus model designed and produced in Hungary in the 60s and 70s, and moved the whole scene into a desert-like landscape he once saw near the Dead Sea. Hence the white and blue flags resembling Israeli flags. However the thin line between joyful and aggressive emotions was left, typical for the unpredictable mob mentality which might turn violet at any second.

Şerban Savu
Gloomy day 
2019
acrylic on board
35 × 35 cm

Şerban Savu
Gloomy day
2019
acrylic on board
35 × 35 cm

Şerban Savu
Gloomy day
2019
acrylic on board
35 × 35 cm


The title of this work directly references a painting by Bruegel. And the disposition of the characters and the very dark sky is a subtle reference to Giotto’s “Palm Sunday”. Here, in Savu's painting, under the excuse of maintenance works, the men are cutting down the trees – a metaphor for the destruction taking place in the name of progress and civilization.

Şerban Savu
San Giorgio II 
2021
oil on board
44 × 36 cm

Şerban Savu
San Giorgio II
2021
oil on board
44 × 36 cm

Şerban Savu
San Giorgio II
2021
oil on board
44 × 36 cm


This painting revisits a theme recurring in art history, especially in the works of Italian Old Masters – the legend of Saint George and the Dragon. The scene with a man riding a horse on a highway was observed by the artist in Romania, when he was driving out to the countryside. Around the same time there was also an article in the newspaper telling a story of a husband who would ride 40 km on his horse to a hospital in North-East Romania, where his wife gave birth, because he didn't have enough money to take the bus to the city.

Şerban Savu
The Acacia Forest
2019
oil on board
33 × 49,5 cm

Şerban Savu
The Acacia Forest
2019
oil on board
33 × 49,5 cm

Şerban Savu
The Acacia Forest
2019
oil on board
33 × 49,5 cm


prev
next