Vlad Basarab is a visual artist working with diverse mediums, concentrating on ceramics, installation, video and performance. He perceives clay as the material that embodies the most dynamic qualities of life and nature due to the transformations it undergoes. From the beginning of history, there existed a strong connection between language and clay, as early forms of written language were found on clay tablets. He uses art as a catalyst for reflection, as a holder of information from the beginning of time.
His art shifted its focal points from the fluctuations of memory appearances, constrained by individual filtering media, to the struggle between perishment and permanence, being addressed in the temporary installations, performances and videos. Becoming more concerned by the impact of censorship on culture, Basarab emerges his work towards questioning methods of transmitting memory, emphasizing the human need to safeguard the past and conserve historic truth. It pursues the need for preservation due to the extreme fragility of memory, knowledge and past.
In our fast-moving society with plenty of distractions, Basarab senses the increasing difficulty of remembering, despite memory being the only link to our past, our identity and our heritage.
Born in Bucharest, Romania, in 1977, Vlad Basarab has had over 20 solo shows in the US and Europe. He started working with clay in 1986 under the guidance of traditional Romanian potters from Horezu, Victor Vicșoreanu and Dumitru Mischiu, considered living human treasures by UNESCO.
In 2001, he received a BFA in Ceramics from the University of Alaska Anchorage. In 2013, he received the MFA in Electronic Media from West Virginia University and is currently a PhD candidate at the University of Art in Bucharest. He was awarded the Rasmuson Foundation for the Arts Grant in Anchorage, Alaska (2008) and a Fulbright research grant in Romania (2013). In 2014 he won the 1st prize for the international competition for the Monument dedicated to the Romanian Language in Chișinău, Republic of Moldova.
He is a member of NCECA, of the International Academy of Ceramics of UNESCO (IAC) in Switzerland and of the Union of Artists of Romania. He is also part of the Galateea Contemporary Art Group in Bucharest. He is a founding member of two artistic groups: Pâlnia (The Funnel) since 1995 and NEURON since 2014. He has collaborated extensively with other artists, dancers, actors, film-makers in the US and Romania.
His work is part of international public and private collections in China (Taishuan Ceramics Factory Co Ltd, Jingdezhen Ceramics Institute, Jingdezhen Asia Europe America Ceramics and Glass Center, Yixing Museum, Artron Art Group, Liling Ceramics Valley Museum), United States of America (West Virginia University, Arvada Center for the Arts and Humanities), Republic of Korea (Toyaseum Museum, Korea Ceramics Foundation), Romania (Arad Art Museum, Museum of Art, Cluj-Napoca, Brâncoveanu Palace Cultural Center, Mogoșoaia), Hungary (King St. Stephen Museum) and Republic of Moldova (Academy of Sciences of the Republic of Moldova).
Cluj International Ceramics Biennale, Cluj Museum of Art, 2017
I wanted the Library of Memory to inspire a dialogue between a dream-like state of memory and the harsh reality of absence. The recessed niche functioning as an idealized library, poetic, fluid and dynamic, appeared in juxtaposition with the rigid state of reality represented by the orderly placed books on the cracked earth. The cracked earth pavement, covered with books, made a direct reference to the installation Path of Knowledge.
While the animated arrangement in the niche seemed warm, the set up on the ground, consisting of nearly similar books, yet orderly displayed as tombstones, seemed cold. By pairing both displays, I wanted the viewer to have a mixed feeling about historical realities.
Brâncoveanu Palace Cultural Center, Mogoșoaia, Romania, 2016
The installation makes direct reference to a historic library. After having been ‘unearthed’ from the archaeological site in the previous installation, the books were allowed to breathe in an old palace. For this installation, I chose a space constructed from red bricks, which would resonate with the red earthenware books. The rectangular structure found in the middle of the exhibition hall, resembled the foundation of an old building. This space, with its age and chromatic consonance, allowed for a harmonious cohabitation with the books, revealing an undisturbed state of conservation
National Art Museum of Moldova, Chișinău, Republic of Moldova, 2016
The installation The Archaeology of Knowledge was a merging of the ideas I explored in the installations The Initial Site and Path of Knowledge, creating a context in which the viewer could experience the feeling of walking through the ruins of an ancient library. The installation became a special place for the consecration of knowledge, a safe haven for culture.