Untitled 1 - © Costel Iarca
By Julia Ann Charpentier
Romanian abstract expressionist Costel Iarca learned from the masters at the School of Popular Art in Targoviste, but his finesse is vintage Windy City — polished and urbane with a metropolitan edge. Though his patented, mixed media application technique gives him a competitive advantage on the international art scene, he assumes nothing, nor does he forget his humble childhood home in the rural village of Valea, where he developed his early skills on sheets of cardboard.
His pristine TMD Gallery and private studio across from The Art Institute of Chicago, reminiscent of a Warhol-era workstation and showroom in New York, minus the pop art, is featuring an evolution of Iarca's signature style. Incorporating textiles into the cylindrical use of latex caulk and acrylic paint, on canvases as massive as five by six feet and weighing as much as sixty pounds, vibrant color explodes in three-dimensional patterns and shapes. Like the startling images captured by the Hubble Space Telescope, his paintings exude an otherworldly mystery. Laced with symbolism from astronomy and religion, each meticulous piece inspires or provokes, manifesting a deep significance beneath the surface.
Untitled 5 - © Costel Iarca
“There is in this universe something that’s new and to be discovered,” he remarks. “We live in a century when people go to the moon. We have to express this in our art.”
Iarca searches for veiled truth and mystic awareness, juxtaposing Greek Orthodox tradition with New Age enlightenment. “I can see that I do the relation all the time between theology and paintings.” His complicated work mirrors the intricate nature of his psyche, distant and mesmerizing. “Art… it’s the big window of the soul.”
Untitled 4 - © Costel Iarca
Surrealism and dreams come to mind, but Iarca does not rely on altered states of consciousness to create. His soulful countenance fades out on command, revealing the gallery owner and entrepreneur behind the scenes. This is the practical side of the artist, doubling as his own dealer, watching the finances, and maintaining a public persona for students and tourists looking for the extraordinary in an industry teeming with talent.
“I am a painter acting like an art dealer, which is very hard to combine,” he says. “You try to act like a businessman, and you have your art studio. You’re in the process of creating, and then you have to talk business too. But they don’t know what’s behind this success, how much pain, and I do not exaggerate, tears in your eyes.”
Untitled 3 - © Costel Iarca
An intense intellectual, Iarca's conversation often veers into the difficulty of balancing his creative impulse with the professional demands of day-to-day business, more of a concern now, than at any time since his art turned into a full-time pursuit over ten years ago.
His direction has changed. “Some people, they discover fast. Some people, they discover, like Picasso, after thirty, forty years.” Knowledge, however, has benefits. “The more experience, the more you create, the better the paintings.”
Untitled 2 - © Costel Iarca
Iarca’s newest work is on exhibit at the TMD Gallery, 122 South Michigan Avenue, Chicago.
Julia Ann Charpentier is a freelance writer and editor. UR is excited to present this wonderful art feature and publish her first UR article to the site!