Alexandru Crișan : on the boundaries of salient conceptual surrealism
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By Editor Marius Cinteză
Alexandru Crișan is a visual artist based in Bucharest, Romania, and architect by formal education. He was either painting or photographing his entire conscious life and his works are published in art galleries around the world, in peer-reviewed magazines or in privately-owned collections.
Alex, first of all I would like to thank you so much for taking your time to answer my questions!
So right now, I feel like this “entity” called photography is having an affair with me, that we went through a lot together – puppy-love and addiction, sharing a bathroom (aka dark room) and threesomes, miscarriages and parenting, and that we’re still flirting, while being in an unsettlingly open relationship…
Skip forward some fiddly 15 years. In the winter of 2008, a win at the Romanian Architecture Annual: it was a photography award, not an architecture one! An eye-opener! Don’t get me wrong, my architectural work was not in shambles or anything like that, I was not looking for some “career change”, it’s just that what started as an amusing side-project was met with instant acclaim. Something like that gives you the confidence to experiment with gusto and to go public with your stories! It was my free pass to trial and error with an audience. And, to this day, it also affords me the hedonism and arrogance to state that I don’t see myself as having a “conventional” professional career in photography!
You see, I’ve experienced almost all the photographic techniques that I am aware of, except for drones, but… and this is the climacteric one: I don’t do events and I don’t do cute! So, there are no wedding gigs or nice colour-bright snapshots anywhere in my future!
You are an architect by formal education. How do architecture and photography interact and complement each other for you and how did both shaped your photographic vision?
So, when I do architectural photography, I rely on what another architect has accomplished. I don’t judge him or her, I celebrate the achievement.
As an artist, I do not try to elevate that answer, nor to test it; instead, I become part of that answer, and I want to make you part of it as well. There’s just one caveat: what you see in my work is not the truth of the aforementioned architect, but mine…
And no, I do not see in this any causality relation with my architectural practice. I guess that this is the reason why most of the “true greats” of the architectural photography are not architects!
Funny thing: I find it almost impossible to photograph my own architectural creations, no matter if we talk about constructed space, a building or a house or some sophisticated interior design. I prefer to call my friends to take some pictures for me. Unbelievable, isn’t it?
On the flip side, awards boot confidence. In some circles, they provide legitimacy. Some argue that a prestigious track-record fosters better sales.
The most important one so far? If you would not have added that “so far” part, I would have told you that the most important one is the next one, simply because others will see me as still relevant… But since you’ve been so specific, I’ll bite: the one that actually caught me completely off-guard. IPA 2015 – for “Empty Spaces”.
One can notice the eclectic nature of many of your photography projects. What do you think it takes to make remarkable works in this area?
You see, the thing is, “remarkable” boils down to collective appreciation. And it cuts both ways: you get the acclaim, but also the nowadays unstoppable duplication fallout. Without the past decade or so, a hefty part of my works became, a few months after their publication, extremely accurate inspirational fountainheads for “remarkable works” of “famous photographers” …
On a lighter note, I would say that, while there is no recipe for a good project, and that each artist should do his/her own thing, there are a few musts: the patience to think the series through; the audacity to photograph what you’ve actually imagined; the coherence to tell the right story without getting sidelined; and the tenacity to start from scratch if one of the first three fail you!
What I can tell you from that experience (again, without gunning for some recipe) is that the artist needs a naked soul to capture the purposefulness of a naked body.
Where do you look for to find inspiration for your works? What inspires you?
Subsequently, I try to steal the soul temperature of the subjects I work with. They all have one: buildings, models, sceneries… And within that feverish crucible, I find the brightest dots - those that almost blind me, hence the aforementioned deformed perspective, I connect them and… well, you can call that inspiration.
How do I recognize inspiration in my own works? Well, there are a few images that need no revisiting, no additional dots, no alibis… They are complete. They have my soul temperature: “Broken dreams”, “Dark Paradise”, “No dream is ever just a dream”, “Myself and I”, “Cachee”, “Only Memories Remains”, “The Disappearance of Ms. D.”.
Alex, I have noticed that your portfolio is almost exclusively B&W. Why do you prefer to express yourself in this manner?
Many are of the opinion that the gear is not very important when the passion for photography is strong. However, can you please share with us what gear do you use (camera, lenses, etc.)?
To add blasphemy to spending injury, the lenses are also not that important to me… but I am, on occasions, partial to the 18, 80 and 200 in focal length.
Usually, the photographers have their own favourite piece of work. Can you please shortly present your favourite photo, the story behind it and explain why it is special to you?
On the other hand, while I lack that “icon” surrogate we’re talking about, I do have images that satisfy my visual appetite more often than others. If I’d have to choose from those presented on 1x (incidentally, not all my good works were approved by the 1x curators, which is a little bit peculiar…), I’d point out: “Blind Light”, “I count the grains of sand…”, “One wish”, “CiNeMA”, “Deconstruction of an unknown balcony”, “Longinus Blade”, “Imprint”.
Who are your favourite photographers or mentors whose works have influenced you and your photography?No mentors. No idols. Bona fide influencers: Michelangelo da Caravaggio, Jean Cocteau, Johannes Vermeer, Man Ray, David Lynch, Theodore Gericault, Andrei Tarkovsky, Gustave Moreau, Jean Nouvel.
We almost reach the end of this interview and I would kindly ask you to share with us your future plans or photographic projects you would like to be involved in.
I think that, Beauty notwithstanding, one’s thirst for virgin springs is not to be quenched within photography. Not any more.
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