1926 – 2018
Geta Bratescu was a Romanian abstract artist who rejected the art of her country’s Communist party. She was known for her abstract photographic collages, films, installations, drawings, textiles, and performances which dealt with themes of identity and gender – often with a Conceptual and humorous bent.
Bratescu attended the Academy of Fine Arts in Bucharest and the Belle Arte School. However she was expelled from art school in 1949 because her father was labeled a capitalist by the Communists. She studied with the writer George Calinescu in Bucharest and worked as an illustrator and artistic director for a Romanian literary journal.
She studied both art and literature, and the duality of writing and drawing was central to her thinking and to her practice of art. An interest in literature and mythology ran through her work as she developed her art during the years of Nicolae Ceausescu’s totalitarian Communist regime. Considering drawing to be a form of writing, she often talked about “the poetry of line.”
She frequently performed in her video work, playing with the idea of visibility and identity, as a way of defining herself as a female artist living in a repressive society. Her 1975 “Self-Portrait Towards White” is a sequence of seven pictures of her own face progressively obscured by a plastic sheet. In the same year, her black-and-white photomontage “Towards White” consisted of nine images where she covered her studio and then herself with large sheets of white paper.
Bratescu considered her art studio to be a safe and nurturing environment as well as a stage for her own creativity. Her 1978 short film “The Studio” shows her carrying out a series of actions in her studio: sleeping, waking, and measuring the space using her body as a ruler. She used a white sheet of paper to create a stage for herself after which she performed playfully. Her studio became an experimental site where she could act freely.
In the late 1970’s and early 1980s, Bratescu took remnants of her mother’s fabrics and made collages out of them, which portrayed abstract female figures in the “territory of birth and death.”
In the last decade of her life she made abstract art which focused on working with the line as a structuring principle. She engaged the line in curved, hard-edged compositions, which were contained or spread out. Her work was shown in the Romanian pavilion at the 2017 Venice Biennale. In the same year she participated in Documenta 14.