Ion Grigorescu was born in Bucharest in 1945. After completing his studies at the Academy of Visual Arts in the Romanian capital, he worked as a drawing teacher in Busteni and Bucharest until 1979. At the same time he took part in numerous art exhibitions, nationally and internationally, both as artist and curator. Initially influenced by Neo-impressionism and Expressionism, he turned to Realism, in which he experimented through the media of photography and film and addressed the problem of the relation between moving and still images. In his wide-ranging work – photo series and films, projections, photo overpainting, assemblages, lithographs, sketches and catalogues – he has continually dealt with the theme of physicality, incorporating language philosophies and psychoanalytic theories.
Grigorescu is considered to be one of the first Romanian conceptual artists. His experimental photo projects from 1971, »Naştere« (t: Birth) and »Hommage a Francis Bacon«, are among the forerunners of Romanian Body Art. A certain kind of improvisation is typical of his work, through which the materiality of the artistic media and a particular, authentic rawness from everyday life come to light. »The bitter-mystical attempt is undertaken to sub mit ‘the Ugly’ to a new order, to transform it in the area of aesthetics through spiritual assimilation – based on the fact that the Ugly exists and cannot be ignored,« writes Ruxandra Balaci.
Especially in the seventies, self-reflection and questioning – Grigorescu’s main themes – were set in the context of the political stricture and restrictions in his home country. The experimental film »Box« (1977) shows a boxing match between Grigorescu and himself, in which the winner progressively fades away. »Dialog cu Ceauşescu« (1978) presents a fictional dialogue with the dictator – played by Grigorescu himself.
In 1982 Grigorescu left the art scene altogether. He devoted himself entirely to the restoration and replication of church frescoes and learned the technique of icon painting until 1990. »It was a kind of retreat from art and exhibiting. I tried to make a performance out of simply living.«
After 1990 Grigorescu’s works were increasingly shown in international exhibitions in Amsterdam, Los Angeles, Vienna, Kassel, Milan, Barcelona, Tokyo, Stuttgart, Lisbon, Zurich and Berlin. The artist has been represented in biennials in Sao Paolo, Cetinje and Venice. He has been making use of new media techniques such as DVDs, scanners and digital cameras in his most recent work. In 2008 he showed his work in the exhibitions »Superpositions« and »The Time Modified the Place« in Paris. Grigorescu lives in Bucharest.
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