Șerban Savu

b. 1978
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“The medium of painting contains and amasses all the knowledge of mankind in this field. [...] I relate with admiration and great interest to this language."

Born 1978 in Sighisoara (Romania), Șerban Savu attended the University of Art and Design in Cluj (Romania), after which he was awarded a two-year research grant to Venice. Considered part of the group of painters known as the Cluj School, Savu’s figurative paintings capture the daily existence of contemporary Romanians at work and leisure with realistic depictions of life in urban and rural landscapes, evoking the essence of a rapidly changing society.

Drawing from his personal interest in ancient worlds and human nature, Savu explores various layers of reality through the lens of art history, in a revival of allegorical and mythical situations inspired by contemporary daily life or recent events. Using a subdued palette and impressionistic figures, he presents nature as dominated by concrete, such as in “Mountain of Nostalgia” (2008), in which men sift through wreckage in a junkyard. An anti-heroic update to Socialist Realism, Savu’s work also references the history of landscape painting. He lives and works in Cluj.

Untitled, 2016

oil on canvas, 22,5 x 30 cm

Savu’s figures, characterised by loosely applied layers of paint, dark and smoky tones as well as impressionistic forms, portray current Romanian society as it emerges from the rubble left by communism. The sites of his images are most frequently nature (though dominated by concrete), abandoned industrial structures and modernist buildings of rural areas.

Although his focus is on the present, not the past, structures built in the communist era are recurring motifs in his paintings. Meanwhile, the framing, perspective, composition and reality of his subjects are already well removed from socialist realist schematism. At the same time, many aspects of his landscape elements can be connected with the aims of great masters whom Savu always cites, ranging from Brueghel to Millet.