Paula Craioveanu: Painting has changed my life
Young, beautiful, delicate, smiling, open. At first sight you would not believe that she is doubled by a creative force hard to imagine. Daughter of a painter, none of the fields connected to painting are unknown to Paula Craioveanu.
Graduate of the University of Architecture, holding a PhD in Visual Arts from the Bucharest University of Arts, with studies at Parsons School of Design in New York, Paula is active in various fields: painting, graphics, art and architecture , photography, compared studies of architecture. She has participated in 30 solo or group shows, published a photography book of compared architecture “Bucharest - Portrait of a city”, and she is involved in architectural projects and interior design. How easy or difficult it is to be a woman artist nowadays, what she feels, we found out directly from her.
Who are you, dear Paula?
At present I can say I am an artist. Painter and architect by profession. I tried to create for myself an environment in which to have certain autonomy in order to be able to work, to read and paint. If my paintings from around the year 2000 were inspired by architecture, I was painting Interiors, in time I became bolder. I changed the theme as I was changing myself. Now I am painting nudes, figurative paintings with a symbolic meaning. I have two websites to show my creation www.paulacraioveanu.com and a second one for painting and photography www.cpaula.com.Sometimes I feel like a person belonging to a different era, who is obliged to live in the present time. That is why my paintings have historical references. I also did architecture restoration I photographed and analyzed historical buildings and I think my paintings have a classical modernity. Still because I live in the 21st century, I had to dream less and get adapted to modern life, to find a place for myself and be able to work.
You are young, still you created a lot of works, you have a PHD in Visual Arts at the University of Bucharest, you paint, you have graphics and digital works, architecture, and interior design, photography, you have painting shows. You published a photography album about Bucharest. You also started the association “The Ideal City”. When do you find time to do all this, and how do you get energy to do all that!
Well, in fact I invest all my energy into what I am doing. This is my life. I travel when I participate in a show abroad and I work when I am in Bucharest…where I also have my studio. I am now doing an interior design for a theater. I suffer from a need for perfection. That makes me work a lot on my paintings, digital collages or any other project. I never count the hours. The vital force is the most important thing and I am trying to surround myself by things and people which would keep me in good shape. Or at least I try not to be around people who are trying to hold me back. I am a positive person.
I am attached to this city and its historical architecture. This is maybe because I grew up and have been living in an old neighborhood of Bucharest, in an old house considered to be a model for the living in the 19th century, a house in the neoclassical style. I have also studied Bucharest architecture at 1900.
But it was painting that changed my life. Painting offers you a complete freedom. It is where I can be myself. There are no requirements, no imposed theme or a budget from the outside, as is the case with architecture or interior design. I am free to choose my theme, characters, forms and colors, the light and to put them on the stage,that is on the canvas in front of me.
When did you start your involvement with artistic creation?
During high school I hesitated between architecture and painting. I was studying in a math oriented high school and I was painting at home in my father’s atelier (I.e.the painter Vasile Craioveanu) and in parallel in another painter’s atelier, of the same generation with my father. I grew up in my father’s atelier and I always wanted to draw and paint, because I was seeing his creations, he was a painter and a ceramist.
I once asked him how he does all that and he said he was thinking them in his mind, before putting them down on canvas.
Is an artist able, nowadays of living from his art?
When I start a work, I don’t think of money. That would stop the creative process. Later on, when I finish my work and I am getting detached from it, I wish somebody would buy it, and it would be shown in a beautiful house. Still it is hard for me to separate from my paintings. And if creations don’t bring in any money, you have to start looking around for other projects. Time and energy are limited and if you get involved in other projects, you stop evolving as an artist and little by little you become something else. This exchange is necessary because the artist is the creator of cultural goods that have to circulate. There is a relationship of interdependence between spirituality, vitality and the economy!
In moments of artistic doubt, I turn towards technical works, whose results are more foreseeable and secure. The artistic life is based on affectivity and sensibility. Sometimes I feel the need to turn back to science and logical thinking. And then I return to architecture.
A color that defines you?
The color blue with all its variations: Cobalt blue, Prussia blue, ultramarine, cerulean. A color can be emotional, a certain color can strike a certain emotional cord.
How would life be without art?
Art is an accomplishment. A harmony between one’s intellect and sensitivity. Life without art would be a life without music, without color, without emotion.
Who was your mentor. Who believed in you?
My parents, grandparents, my family. They never told me to do a certain thing, they let me do what I wanted to do, and this is the best thing that ever happened to me.
It is evident that a child need guidance, but he usually realizes by himself what he can do or he cannot do. The environment, the school can be decisive. I remember both in elementary and in high school there was a lot of competition going on. Later on in college at the University of architecture, the level was even higher and the requirements also. Still, succeeding later in life depends on what you yourself like to do most. That is why I wanted to become an artist instead of drawing blocks of flats, depots, stadiums, or cities. Blocks of flats are useful, functional, but I wanted to make smaller scale, may be less useful things that would mirror my emotions and experiences.
What would you tell a beginner in the art field?
I would tell them to have confidence in her or himself, even if society tries to make them hesitate.
How much in your success is work, talent and luck?
Many times I look at one of my works and I am asking myself how I was able to make it. This is talent in my opinion. Even if sometimes I think it’s the talent, most of the times I need to work for hours and restart from the beginning.
What is Paula doing when she is not in her atelier? What does she like to do?
I like to watch movies, to read books, I like to swim, I like summer, the sea and warm climates.
What does it mean to be feminine? What does feminity mean?
It means to cultivate your sensibility, to be able to express your feelings. Although the girls and women of my generation were taught to work hard and compete with men and forget about being feminine. I am talking about women architects and artists who were taught being feminine is a weakness which would make them less important in their profession. On the contrary I believe that being feminine is in fact a quality, an expression of sensibility and we should not deny it. Due to these qualities they have women are more gifted for art and beauty.