Piantra Neamt (Rum.)
Racines Eblouissantes, 1933
Oil on canvas 605 x 725 mm Signed and dated lower right, title on the frame
E.L.T. Mesens, Belgium Private collection, Belgium The authenticity of this work has been confirmed by Samy Kinge
Knokke, gallery Ronny Van de Velde, Coloured Skins, 2015
Jan Ceuleers, Coloured Skins, gallery Ronny Van de Velde, Knokke, 2015, pp. 40-41 ill.
He was born in Piatra Neamţ, the son of a timber manufacturer who subsequently settled in Vienna with his family for a few years. It is there that young Victor attended elementary school. When his family returned to the country in 1914, he continued his studies at the Evangelical school in Brăila; he began to be interested in zoology in that period. He attended the National School of Fine Arts in Bucharest (1919-1921) and Horia Igiroşanu's private school of painting. He visited Fălticeni and Balcic, and started painting landscapes in the manner of Paul Cézanne. Then, as he testified himself, he went through all the stages: "Dadaist, Abstractionist, Expressionist". On September 26 1924, the Mozart Galleries in Bucharest hosted his first personal exhibition. In that period he met poet Ilarie Voronca, together with whom he founded the 75HP magazine. It was in this magazine that Brauner published the manifesto The Pictopoetry and the article The Surrationalism. He painted and exhibited Christ at the Cabaret (in the manner of George Grosz) and The Girl in the Factory (in the manner of Hodler). He participated to the Contimporanul exhibition in November 1924. In 1925 he undertook his first journey to Paris, from where he returned in 1927. In the period 1928-1931 he was a contributor of the Unu magazine (an avant-garde periodical with Dadaist and Surrealist tendencies), which published reproductions of most of his paintings and graphic works: "clear drawings and portraits made by Victor Brauner to his friends, poets and writers" (Jaques Lessaigne - Painters I Knew). In 1930 he settled in Paris, where he met Constantin Brancusi, who instructed him in methods of art photography. In that same period he became a friend of the Romanian poet Benjamin Fondane and met Yves Tanguy, who would later introduce him to the circle of the Surrealists. He lived on Moulin Vert Street, in the same building as Alberto Giacometti and Tanguy. He painted Self-portrait with enucleated eye, a premonitory theme. In 1933, André Breton opened Brauner's first personal exhibition in Paris, at the Pierre Gallery. The theme of the eye was omnipresent: Mr. K's power of concentration and The strange case of Mr. K are paintings that Breton compared with Alfred Jarry’s play Ubu Roi, "a huge, caricature-like satire of the bourgeoisie". In 1935 Brauner returned to Bucharest. He joined the ranks of the Romanian Communist Party for a short while, without a very firm conviction. On April 7, 1935, he opened a new personal exhibition at the Mozart Galleries. In 1938 he returned to France. On August 28 he lost his left eye in a violent argument between Oscar Domínguez and Esteban Frances. Brauner attempted to protect Esteban and was hit by a glass thrown by Domínguez: the premonition became true. That same year, he met Jaqueline Abraham, who was to become his wife. He created a series of paintings called lycanthropic or sometimes chimeras. He left Paris during Nazi Germany's invasion of France in 1940, together with Pierre Malbille. He lived for a while in Perpignan, at Robert Rius', then at Cant-Blage, in the Eastern Pyrenees and at Saint Feliu d'Amont, where he was forcibly secluded. However, he kept in touch with the Surrealists that had taken refuge in Marseille. In 1941, he was granted the permission to settle in Marseille. Seriously ill, he was hospitalized at the "Paradis" clinic. After the war, he took part in the Venice Biennale, and traveled to Italy. In 1959, he settled in the workshop on Lepic St. In 1961 he traveled to Italy again. In the same year, New York City's Bodley Gallery mounted a solo exhibition of Brauner's work. He settled in Varengeville in Normandy, where he spent most of his time working. In 1965 he created an ensemble of object-paintings full of inventiveness and vivacity, grouped under the titles Mythologie and Fêtes des mères. The themes are connected to the mythology of the modern world, where man is depicted with humor, tenderness and pessimism, alienated by his new "mothers" - L’automoma and L'aeroplapa. Criticism or acceptance of this world, that once seemed "so terrifying" and in which "reality became an extremely harmful thing", but which actual life made more acceptable. It is undeniable that these paintings, made in Varengeville and in Athanor (1964), where Brauner retreated, are the visions full of humor and imagination of a future world that he wanted to leave to us as a gift. This Mythology includes the last foretelling painting, La fin et le debut (made in 1965), which reminds us that "when the painter's life ends, his work starts living" (Dominique Bozo in Le petit journal des grandes Expositions - Victor Brauner - au Musée National de l'Art moderne - Paris du 2 juin au 28 septembre 1977). In 1966 he was chosen to represent France at the biannual exhibition in Venice, where an entire hall was dedicated to him. He died in Paris as a result of a prolonged illness. The epitaph on his tomb from the Montmartre cemetery is a phrase from his notebooks: "Peindre, c'est la vie, la vraie vie, ma vie" ("Painting is life, the real life, my life").