Bogdan Mihai Radu, one of the most sought after Romanian artists of the moment, who now resides in London, talks to London Post about his art, new projects, life and more.
Hi Bogdan! Have you been making art during the pandemic? Has this affected your creativity?
Hi! Thank you for taking the time to learn more about my work.
The past couple of months have been challenging, but I have tried to make the most out of them. The upside to this pandemic has been that I have spent more time painting and creating in the studio. I managed to move to a new studio in Earl’s Court and have made the space my own by renovating it. It has been a very good time for me to develop new perspectives and focus on my art, and a lot of the anxieties I have experienced in relation to the news and fear of the virus drove me to put those emotions into making new work. Recently, I have been painting a new interpretation of landscapes and flowers which combine my encounters with nature and my need for beauty and calmness.
Do you have a philosophy that you create by?
I don’t have a philosophy for art but my life philosophy involves cherishing the beauty and wonders of nature. My heart opens and my imagination runs wild; I get lost in my thoughts and try to bring a part of that onto the canvas. I consider myself a painter of the present as I try to focus on portraying the spirit of our time.
Where do size and scale come into your work? Do you have a preference when it comes to working big or working small? How does scale alter your process?
I definitely like to work on a grand scale and that is particularly evident in the size of my canvases, with most ranging from 100cm x 100cm to even 2m wide. My new studio affords me with more space and allows me to experiment more with scale and size. In my old studio, I had to work according to the constraints of being in a tighter space. Although my creativity was somehow limited, I did manage to learn a lot from those spatial restrictions and was almost forced to work on smaller canvases. I find myself now scaling the emotions I expressed on smaller canvases up. Being able to work on larger canvases is not a fad but rather a creative choice. I have the opportunity to test and build more complex colour combinations, compositions and structures into a painting.
What does your studio look and feel like?
I’m in awe whenever I enter my studio. After a lot of planning and work, I have created a space that I am very happy with. It’s a big space with 2 large rooms and a long corridor that leads to a private garden (which has come as a godsend during the pandemic). It has direct street access, plenty of natural light and the interior decor compliments my personality. I am proud to have this space and also thankful to my friend and artist, Sorin, who helped me a lot in getting the landlord’s approval to redecorate. After 1 year and 4 months, the studio has come to life. Just a 5-minute walk from Earl’s Court station, it’s in a very beautiful location and is really accessible. Adopting the necessary social distancing requirements, I hope to be able to accept studio visits soon and would like to host events to welcome the general public into my space within the next year.
What are the most important things you need with you in your studio when painting?
I believe one of the things that I need is a good vibe. Some nice music in the background and good lighting to clear my thoughts and help me bring my ideas onto the canvas. In the past, I used a lot of traditional painting tools, but now I’ve decided to shape my own. I have repurposed a lot of construction tools such as, small trowels, floats and big brushes and have modified them to meet my needs.
What are your daily creative rituals?
I love to drink my coffee in the garden, enjoy the fresh air and plan my day. Also, before I start working, I often prepare my canvases in advance with small interventions such as, scratches, colours, frames and so on. I have a series of paintings entitled “Searching,” where I experimented with a lot of new techniques. This included exposing the canvas to natural phenomena such as, rain, sun, wind,
mud etc. I am a person with few habits but I can say that drinking a glass of red wine has become a ritual at the end of the day.
How do you understand your role as an artist?
Generally speaking, art is nothing more than the search for the self, meaning and existence. No matter how much trends change, beliefs and thoughts shift, I strongly believe my art will remain constant in meaning and rich in expression. I search for, without explanation, a lost perfection of the mind and soul, and I find it important to portray clarity and peace through my work.
What are you busy with right now in the studio? What’s going well and what’s causing you challenges?
I just finished tidying up my studio. The past few weeks were also dedicated to other big changes, such as redesigning my website and developing my overall presence online. I have been lucky enough to work with dedicated professionals who have helped me realise some of my goals. I also tend to get in touch with old teachers and good friends, like Corneliu Brudascu, who provide me with constructive feedback. There is a lot of technical work that is put into something like a catalogue, website and social media posts, and while this period has presented several challenges, it has also brought about many positive changes.
When you’re not making art, what are some of the things you enjoy doing?
When I’m not in the studio, I like to exercise and take long walks in London’s various parks and green spaces. Exercising really helps my creative process. London is also a great source of inspiration; when I walk through the city, I am struck by the city’s history and architecture. During my free time, I also like to keep up to date with art news and stay informed of new exhibitions, auctions and happenings that are taking place across London and Europe.
Mindful of these uncertain times, do you have any projects coming up? What’s next for you?
I plan to work hard and keep my spirits high in the coming months. This past month, I was decorated as a Knight for promoting Romanian culture abroad by the Romanian President, Mr. Klaus Iohannis, and I am so grateful and honoured to receive this accolade. This was an enormous morale boost and a reminder that I have to continue to produce work during these testing times. Working with passionate and dedicated people has been a true blessing and I am so happy that many of my personal and professional goals have taken shape. To balance things out, I have offered part of my time and resources to the Romanian Embassy in London for humanitarian use.
My next few projects will encompass a new interpretation of core landscapes and nature. In a new meaningful expression of emotions and thoughts, I will try to depict new scenes that encompass both figurative and abstract forms.
I am certain that people need art, now more than ever, to help them stay positive and hopeful.