Ramona NOVICOV, art critic

Painting as body and fallow field - a dark, dense and sealed place which needs to be ploughed deeply, over and over again in order to reveal once more its particles of light. That is why image as concevied by Radu Serban, can only be created through reversible routes, descent -  ascent, crypt - throne, gate - shield, hearth - cupola.

The pictorial space is a closed one, dark and mysterious, yet the forms which it contains are protected, often by a pristine background, wavelike as virgin canvas. Sometimes these forms become so personified that they detach themselves from the rigidity of their protective space to stand singular and volatile as if they were the wings of a fragile altar. Lightly sketched, such forms allow themselves to become protected only by the warmth of the wood of the old “destructured” assemblages.

With a sensitive presence, delicate and yet monumental, the painter’s forms advance vertically towards a purely interior space; an outpost barely still visible, a “times” at the boundary between “here” and “there”. Luminous and warm these forms rise like a cupola, like dough, tending to grow in their fullness to fill, the entire space within which they are contained. Sometimes this expansion of interiority leads the two dimensional image towards an objectivized state wherein its formal Limit becomes extremely sensitive.

The purity, suppleness and amplitude of the forms is supported by a painting technique of privileged plasticity. The artist employs, in a modern yet thorought rigorous manner, the time honoured iconographic technique of painting in egg tempera, laden with spirituality. The matte velvet lustre of the tempera enables a brush stroke to attain a tender expressivness, rapidly attenuated yet still preserved in the chromatic vibration of its texture.

This explains why the art of Radu Serban has a pronounced votiv character. His images often appear to be "worshipping” or “offering”, controled by the transmundane hierarchy, while the painter himself demonstrates that he is a “witness” who never ceases to seek the optimal form of introspection. Thus the palimpsest of his message has a “Testament” as its primordial text.

In the spirit of this message, the painter’s figures are solitary, having a virginlike and contemplative presence. They have a shadowy gaze calligraphically traced with descending lines which amplify their melancholic expressiveness, bearing the slightly amazed peace of thouse who have passed the ordeal of their tribulations. Wide open eyes and sealed mouths underline the fact that contemplation is purely introspective. Beyond the silence of these figures the epidermic pulse and rustling of the painter’s medium animates the richness of the image.

Radu Serban knows and senses all of this, he is touched by a yearning for that luminous “Distance”, deep and high like the darkness of a well that reflects the stars of midday. He realizes that to paint a world in which material is constructed verticaly is to feverishly and yet faithfuly await the moment, when as the prophet said, “Your light will arise from the dark, and your darkness shall become the light of the day”.

Translated by Dan Vranceanu (Canada)