This is a guest post by Delia Iliesiu Prvacki.
On the occasion of reviewing the exhibition of Mrs. Lucia Neagu at Suzanne Zahr Gallery on Mercer Island WA, it is important to understand we are looking at a collection of paintings coming from a very special, unusual context. We need to place its creator in the frame of complex events and accept this exhibition as metaphor and embodiment of many segments making a life of an exceptional woman – academic, artist, wife, mother, citizen of the world.
Despite the fact that she appeared only recently on the Seattle’s art scene, her spontaneous presentation to the public, at a remarkable seniority age, must be seen as a coronation, a logical and natural continuation of more than six decades of professional activities in various fields of art, both as an artist and as an educator. Celebrating Lucia’s first solo exhibition right now, she deserves not only our admiration and appreciation for her bold approach of painting (acrylic on canvas) as a specific, independent and defined medium, but we are also reminded to look retrospectively into her portfolio and get a revealing discovery of her extraordinary life trajectory, always evolving in rich and complex ways.
Since a young student she immersed herself in visual arts, and followed a solid education that gave her a structured orientation, based on preliminary significant knowledge of techniques, construction and architecture. Starting with her initial academic training in classical and traditional drawings and paintings, at the Beijing Central Institute of Applied Art, Lucia was introduced to watercolor and calligraphy, proving an admirable understanding of each technique. Her early works were example of deep sense of space, volumes and shape. Her intuition and interest in art and creative field was consumed through readings with a formidable learning curiosity in culture, science, history, languages. After completion of her studies in China and a few years spent in New York, she returned to her native country as a brilliant young intellectual, possessing encyclopedic and universal erudition, ready for an academic career.
I was one of those privileged to be mentored and guided during her first courses as a lecturer at the Ceramic Department of the Institute of Fine Arts in Bucharest in the 70’s. Without hesitation, I could say Lucia or Mrs. Neagu, how we students called her, contributed substantially to the development and affirmation of many artists who are today accomplished ceramicists.
Due to exceptional qualities, resilience and permanent curiosity, with open mind and restless effort to get into the essence of the subject she was teaching, Lucia transformed an otherwise arid and “boring” domain of technology into captivating lessons, opening students’ mind and eyes and encouraging experimentation and innovation in their practice. Focusing on scientific facts, together with a fascination she nurtured for colors, structures, textures, Lucia’s years of fruitful research and experimentation with ceramic mineral materials, studies of crystals, oxides, glazes, chemical compositions, processes and firing techniques, created the base for what we see today as an explosive expression of a dormant talent as a painter. Those were the leading forces enabling the birth of this striking, consistent, condensed body work on canvas, done in the last 12 years. In my eyes and in my mind, this wasn’t an accident. It is the peak moment of inspiration of a great and multi-talented personality.
The body of work Lucia is exhibiting in this first official solo exhibition is the result of her deep passion, determination and commitment, the traits she followed her entire life in all her actions and activities. I can certainly say Lucia’s discovery of painting was a sublime extension of her own research, displaying highly articulated observation skills, analytic potential and uninhibited experimentation with colors. The viewer of this exhibition will be captivated, intrigued, and overwhelmed by these canvases that will transport them into an unknown world of wonders. Lucia’s new creative cycle, generously displayed at Suzanne Zahr Gallery, is the promise of a next evolution and enrichment of her trajectory; a continuation of a life condensed in strong beliefs, affinities for beauty, progress and humanistic ideals.
Delia Iliesiu Prvacki