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This is not a blog which expresses instant opinions on current events. It rather uses incidents, books (old and new), links and papers as jumping-off points for some reflections about our social endeavours.
So old posts are as good as new! And lots of useful links!

Monday, July 22, 2013

Cultural pursuits on a quiet Bucharest sunday

Just as I maligned the city in my last post, Bucharest is now showing me a kinder face. Dental treatment has forced me to stay in the city for a few weeks – and the cooler temperatures have made this – and brisk morning walks - a bearable proposition. Yesterday was a glorious day for walking – overcast and, at 20 degrees, about 15 cooler than is normal for this time of year. And the palm-sized Fuji camera acquired during the Koln trip gives an additional incentive to walk. Building facades we had taken for granted during our normal walks from Piata Victoerei to Unirii acquired therefore a new perspective as we traversed the side streets – deserted as they are (apart from some early birds in the cafes) during these summer weekends.
I had wanted to get some snaps of the houses in the area bisected by Hristov Botev street to the north-east of the concrete fascism of the Unirii area - but light drizzle forced a readjustment and we found ourselves veering around just before our destination; and arriving in the small gallery under the Military Circle chatting to a young, untrained artist who is an active collector of Romanian painters and member of the Romanian art collectors’ association.
It was the last day of Mihai Sandilescu’s exhibition – with paintings with a strong sense of colour I don’t often find here. They reminded me of Matisse and the towering (but strangely neglected) figure who was Caillebotte.

Mihai recommended we visit the current exhibition at the Bucharest Municipality Museum which turned out to be a marvellous collection of paintings devoted to the Romanian House – temporarily lent by private owners (downstairs was another temporary exhibition – of less interesting works for sale at reasonable prices). I go some new names for the file in which I am making notes on Romanian realist painters of the past century – a file which now has about 60 names and 50 pages.
The visit gave me nine new names – Artachino, Constantin (1870-1954); Baesu, Aurel (1896-1928); Alper, Juan (1857-1901); Cismaru, Mihai (1943-2003); Catargi, George (1894-1963); Darascu, Nicolae (1883-1953); Ghiata, Dimitir (1888-1972); Ludeosanu Aurel Popp (1874-1960); and Popescu, Cicerone (1908-70). We were now more than 3 hours into our cultural walk which culminated in a quick visit to the second hand bookshop on Strada Ion Ghica – unearthing 2 good-looking current German guidebooks to Romania (for 5 euros each) and a pristine (and Romanian) edition of Umberto Eco’s stunning On Beauty (for 10 euros).
Then on to the Anthony Frost English bookshop where its manager gave me an illuminating insight into the current booktrade.

Suitably chastened and all the more determined to break my Amazon habit, I emerged with four books – Bucharest Tales (in the New Europe Writer series);Vassily Grossman’s A Writer at War; Friedrich Reck’s recently rediscovered and amazing journal from the Nazi period - Diary of a Man in Despair - which has the poetic power of a series of Georg Grosz paintings combined with some Brecht poems (and this from a scion of the German aristocracy) The book is also reviewed here.
The final book was one of their 45% off bargains – another in the delightfully-produced New York Review of books series The Gallery by John Horne Burns.

The painting and book visits and chats were so filling there simply wasn't an appetite left for the planned visit to the newly-opened Museum of Art Collections back nearer home at Calei Victorei......   

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