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Hervé Constant ‘Constant Traveller’ Museum of Suceava, Bucovina, Romania

Interview between Hervé Constant and Madelyn Freeman

1. For many people here in the UK, Romania seems far away.

What were your impressions?

Attractive, and pleasant to be able to live there. Romania is

a big country, with a very agricultural landscape. The colour

of the ground, in most places, look very fertile.

2. Did you have any previous thoughts, ideas or expectations

about your journey to Romania?

Not at all. I very often had in mind to visit its capital

Bucharest. I always loved the music, the classical as well as

the folk and the Romani music.

I would go very regularly to the Romania Cultural Institute

in Belgrave Square, London, to listen to this music.

I was always impressed by the level of those presentations,

especially the musical events. The venue is welcoming and


3. What are your views of Romanian cultural heritage? What did

you discover during your time in the country?

I realised that there are different influences – German,

Hungarian, Austrian - even French.

I was pleasantly surprised that the people I met expressed a

great interest in everything French.

Some were learning the language and had a good knowledge

of French literature.

The exhibition included my two new portraits, one of Emil

Cioran, the philosopher, and another of the poet Paul Celan,

both of moved from Romania to Paris.

EMIL CIORAN Acrylic on paper 45x70cm Hervé Constant

4. What were the people like?

Most are friendly, though appearing to be distant or a little

suspicious. My feeling is they can very quickly warm up to

you and change their behaviour.

I recall an experience arriving at Gara de Nord, in Bucharest

from the airport.

I arrived in Bucharest around 1 am. My next transfer to Gara

de Nord was by 2 am. My train to Suceava was around 6:30

am. Therefore, I could not book a hotel to stay and have a rest.

I sat on a bench and waited. Later, a short while later, a couple

passed by. The man asked me something in English. I must say,

I was quite surprised.

They sat down not far away. We then started a conversation,

talking about one thing and another. A very pleasant, generous

couple and we got on quite well. They are Romanians now living

in Washington DC for years.

5. Did people at the Museum and at the University want to know

about your life in London? Were they curious?

I would say yes, they were curious. We (the events manager

at the Museum and presenter David Greenslade along with his

wife, the translator, Georgeta Bradatan) went thoroughly

through a list of questions to give a larger focus on my work

to make it interesting.

The audience wanted to know many things.

6. What impressed you most? What impressed you least?

I very much like the churches of Byzantine influence. Especially

the one close to the hotel, called St John the New Monastery,

where I was staying in Suceava, which was in the center of

the town, close to the Library, the Museum, and the University.

Stephen the Great University, Suceava, Romania. Talk presentation.

From the left: Hervé Constant, Georgeta Bradatan, David Greenslade

This monastery was only a few metres away. The scale and

quality of the paintings on the outside walls was very impressive.

Another Church I also appreciate very much was on the way

from Suceava to Iasi. It is a monastery called Probota built in

the 1500s.

I went there by car. The monastery is isolated and does not get

many visitors. In that case, the outside walls were not decorated

with many paintings and much has also disappeared. The inside

of the Church, however, was regal and beautifully maintained.

It is looked after by the nuns and has a very comprehensive

display of frescos, paintings, and artifacts.

7. Would you return to Romania and, if so, why?

My stay was short, and during that time I concentrated on

preparing for the Solo exhibition and meeting at the University

to arrange my presentation talk.

Therefore, my time available for travelling and discovering

Romania was limited. I would love to be given another

opportunity to return to Romania.

Visiting Iasi, a town situated in the northeast of the country

was a treat, a very relaxing outing and attractive, with

remarkable Museums, parks, and Churches.

One of the large Museums (Including four large galleries)

was situated near a large Mall. I must admit to feeling strange

going through the large shopping Mall, filled with so many

people, but later I arrived at the entrance of the Palace of

Culture which was empty. What a contrast.

Something that did surprise me was that I found many

Romanians appeared to be a little suspicious, not trusting. A

few times during my stay, which lasted over a week, when I

met people and asked them for directions, they were a bit

unhelpful, even to the extent of ignoring me. However, it is

also true most were kind, and generous with their time.

LABYRINTH Oil on canvas 70x70cm Hervé Constant

8. Can we discuss your Solo Exhibition?

Thanks to David Greenslade, a poet and curator from Wales I

was invited to have a solo exhibition at the Bukovina Museum

of History, Suceava, Romania. David and his wife Georgeta

travel regularly between Wales and Iasi, where they have a

home in a small village called Horlesti, in the northeast of

Romania. They have both been extremely helpful and generous

with their time and resources to make the exhibition a success.

I am most grateful for their kind support.

The show was very well received. Many people attended the

private view, including visiting writers from France, Germany,

and Australia who happened to be in town. A lot of Suceava

writers came, as well as students. The event was covered by

local and national television.

9. Which paintings did you choose to exhibit in Romania and why?

My selection of works was diverse - paintings, photos,

and prints - made in the last 10 – 15 years. At first sight, one

might be surprised by the seemingly disparate body of works,

since some are semi-abstract, figurative, or totally abstract.

Bukovina Museum of History in Suceava, Romania.

Private view: Hervé Constant

Personally, it does not bother me, but I know it does to a few

visitors. I will see an abstract form in the figurative and in

the figurative an abstract form.

10. You gave a talk to students at the University. What subject

matter did you explore?

We made sure to cover different fields of interest to a public

based in Romania. The audience was a mixture of artists,

students, and visitors.

As I regularly give presentations at UCL in London and talk

to young students there, at UCL a number of foreign students

have travelled and seen a wide collection of artworks.

Therefore, it could have been a mistake in Romania to

make it solely an academic discussion.

We also discussed my working methods. The audience

responded very well.

JOYAUX Acrylic on paper 50x40cm Hervé Constant

11. Can you explain why you spoke specifically about the subjects

you choose in your talk?

We decided on a talk to extrapolate the situation of a

contemporary artist. Therefore, I discussed an attitude, an

experience, recent commissions, and past exhibitions.

I also mentioned that I never attended an art school and so

emphasised the benefits of learning through copying the artists

I was interested in and reading their biographies, saying

that copying them at the beginning of one’s career can be a

particularly effective way of learning.

12. What did you learn from your exhibition and talk?

That it is worth being honest and authentic. It might surprise

and unsettle the audience a little, but in the end one’s personal

insights come through.

13. What are your future plans?

NAPOLI Photograph by Hervé Constant

My next event is to attend an Artist in Residence in Turkey. I

will fly to Istanbul on the 14 July and return to London 24 July.

The residency Arnica Art Land Art Workshop exhibition will

take place in Adana, South Turkey.

Then 18 November I will read some poetry written by Guillaume

Apollinaire at the Haringey Livry Friendship Association in north

London. The event is to be presented by the writer David Hunter.

It comprises short films, poetry, and a documentary.

A group exhibition REGENERATION takes place at the Hansard

Studio, London, UK from 11th December 2023 to 13th January

2024. Curated by Philippa Beale.

I have received an invitation to participate in an exhibition at

The Archive Vortice, Buenos Ayres, Argentina in 2025.

Curated by Delgado Garcia Fernando.

TRACES Oil on paper 55x45cm Hervé Constant

Exhibition: Hervé Constant "Constant Traveller"

Museum of History, Suceava, Bucovina, Romania

19 May - 17 June 2023

The "Lectora" literary festival, at the Suceava History Museum

Televiziunea Intermedia

CASABLANCA CORNICE Photograph Hervé Constant


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