In recent decades, the words “artist” and “art” have lost much of their traditional meaning. Today, almost any activity can be described as art, as part of the democratization of culture. We live in a profoundly unequal society, as measured by income, education, access to medical care, basic safety, and economic mobility, yet the notion of equality continues to be promoted in the field of art. (Fortunately, this idea of equality is not yet accepted in most other fields. We would not trust an amateur to perform brain surgery. The space program was not run by hobbyists. )

Ilie Vaduva’s exhibit at the Bridgeport Art Center presents a powerful counter-example to the present equalizing trend in art. As curator at the Bridgeport Art Center, it is my privilege to encounter the work of a great many artists, and the BAC itself is home to some 150 artists who rent studios here. One of these is Romanian-born Ilie Vaduva, who has installed a solo show of his work in BAC’s Third Floor Gallery. Although many curators may be reluctant to try (at least publicly) to define what is great art, I do not hesitate to state that this exhibit is an inspiring demonstration of what it really means to be a great artist.

Ilie’s art education began at an early age in Romania. He started drawing and painting as a child, attending art school at the age of 8. Ilie studied mural painting at the local high school of art, then enrolled in graphic art studies at the Art University in Timisoara. After graduation, Ilie moved with his wife to the United States to pursue his art career.

Ilie Vaduva’s exhibition, EGO VS ALTEREGO, explores the psychological idea of competing forces within each human heart, metaphorically presented as battling figures. In the words of the artist, this cycle “graphically describes scenes in which characters meet their own distorted image, personalized by mythological animals, chess pieces or a mix of the two. There is a constant metamorphosis between the Ego and the AlterEgo.”

In addition to many exquisite (and exquisitely framed) linocuts, the artist presents monumental oil paintings, sometimes depicting entire armies battling. But the figures are composed of precisely rendered intertwining ribbons that create the shapes.

In my experience, it is rare to encounter a contemporary artist who is capable of the level of hard work that is required to produce such an incredibly large, yet technically flawless, body of work. Ilie Vaduva’s dedication and professionalism are matched by an intellectually challenging expression of ideas. I cannot recommend this inspiring exhibit more highly, especially to other artists.

-Lelde Kalmite


Exhibition runs from October 26 – November 19, 2018 and is located on the 3rd Floor of the Bridgeport Art Center.