The Quadro Gallery is planning, through a series of exhibitions, to draw attention to a number of works from the field of the decorative and applied arts, which have frequently been passed over by art critics and historians, even though the fresh and sustained approaches we meet here are relevant both for the history of art and for a better understanding of the period in which the works were produced.
In the socialist countries those marginal fields of art were less subjugated by the social realism (in comparison with the plastic arts). The artistic practice and thought were permitted to manifest more freely, showing new directions of expression. In the 1960s those fields caught a strong impetus from society’s general need of modernization, the improvement in the standard of living and the birth of a new type of comfort. Those phenomena shouldn’t be read as being exclusively a mean tosynchronize with the Occident. In most of the cases, the means of expression present in the two blocs were similar, but the reasons were frequently different.
The substantial collection of tapestries, executed by Maria Ciupe between 1964 and 1973, must be interpreted in the context of the renaissance in Romanian textile art. The beginning of this development can be dated to around 1965, and in this phenomenon we see Maria Ciupe engaged in raising textile art from the level of an applied art to a serious genre, the place it had occupied in its best days in the course of the history of art.
Maria Ciupe's synthesis was realised at a late stage in her career (the artist was 56 in 1964 when she started the series). At that point, the younger generation had already embarked upon a search for a way out of the classical constraints of the genre. This sustained personal synthesis has an identifiable place in the history of art in Romania, since it is among those which achieved a restoration of the dignity of the genre. Maria Ciupe's tapestries go through a number of compositional stylisations that move beyond the realist vision to recover the modalities of coalescing the image (through collage and transfer) specific to the historical avant-garde. They are characterized by a refined chromatic, the colour palette oscillating between the natural colours of wool and earth and the vivid hues of the rugs of Maramureș.
The tapestries have not been brought together in an exhibition since 1973, and the preliminary sketches have never been placed on public display. The latter offer us an intimate insight into Maria Ciupe’s creative process, showing the viewer an approach whose modernity is sometimes manifested more freely in the sketches than in the finished works.
The mock-ups transposed into tapestries on the scale of the human body and of inhabited spaces are no longer pictures to look at but become presences with which one can live. They cease to be windows onto something and become means towards “the re-enchantment of the world”, as is the case with Maria Ciupe’s greatest tapestries.