(1938 - 2004)
"For Paul Neagu, art is an expression of 'desire in the face
of the systems that attempt to inhibit it', as he writes, and
desire involves 'the recovery' of what he calls, variously, the
'hyphen,' the 'abstract', the 'gamma', all of which involve the
'bodily', conveyed particularly through the 'figural essence of
sculpting, paintings, drawings'. Neagu's works, whatever their
medium, are certainly full of desire, as their visceral energy
suggests." Donald Kuspit, 'Paul Neagu's Hypen
Born, Bucharest 1938 and died, London 2004.
Neagu spent his early years living under Stalinist Military
occupation in Bucharest, he adopted his father's trade as a cobbler
yet his aspirations lay in the study of philosophy. This dream was
an impossibility due to the ideologically strict nature of his
nation's and his family's, Christian piety. Instead, in 1963
he enrolled as a student at the Bucharest Institute of Fine
Arts. Here he would experiment with new ways to express his
own metaphysical beliefs through abstract experimentation in a
great range of mediums; this was during a period when the expected
style of art was social realism.
Upon graduating, Neagu created a reputation for himself as an
artist in Bucharest up until 1969 when Edinburgh based artist and
curator, Richard Demarco, offered him his own exhibition in his
Edinburgh gallery. This would mark the beginning of Neagu's
life and career in the UK, as he would shortly move to London where
he would be based for the rest of his life, achieving his first
museum show at the Museum of Modern Art, Oxford in 1975.
As an artist, Neagu's continued philosophical approach to his
art would encourage his further development in the fields of
abstraction. Always informed by his experience of conflict
and his desire to express the paramount importance of the spirit in
the modern world, he could command an intense visceral response
through his creations.
Neagu was also a well respected teacher, most notably lecturing
at the Hornsey, the Slade and Chelsea, and in 1976 he achieved the
position of Associate Professor at the Royal College of Art. Among
his British students were Antony Gormley, Anish Kapoor and Rachel Whiteread.
His sculptures, paintings, drawings and documentation of his
performances are in numerous public collections, including the
British Museum, Tate including the Paul Neagu display room at Tate Modern, the V & A and the Scottish National
Gallery of Modern Art. More recently he has had two public
sculptures erected in his homeland: Century Cross, in
Charles de Gaulle Plaza, Bucharest; and Crucifixion in Timisoara.