Pavel Sușară, art critic

Painting as a spiritual exercise

…Radu Serban is completely detached from the strict problems of language (problems that absorb most of his generation’s colleagues) and, second, he manages to integrate in the most unobtrusive area of contemporary Romanian painting, in whose shadow two great melancholists watch – Florin Mitroi and Ilie Boca. This vein of the Romanian art, frail at first sight, but of great spiritual stamina, entails some defining coordonates: the absence of any kind of ostentatiousness, the harsh selection of the expressive means, the unsterile beauty and the almost mystic obiedence to the object…
His vision has a Byzantine filiation, but in a way that exclude outer landmarks. Regarding this path, only the image’s spirit can be distinguished, as well as the compozitional grimness and the object’s evanescence. The image used in the composition, regardless of  the real nature of the object, calls up the artist’s participatory sensitivity in a way that makes it receive the entire authority of the portrait. In fact, all works offer a hidden portraiture, even if in the immediate expression they convey a human face, a bowl or an apple.
Despite the intuition of the spiritual load of objects and their registration in a record of plastic thinking, Radu Serban tackles painting by selecting his means in a severe, austere way. His canvases become transparent through the ethereal of brush traces, and colour loses any material quality. The registry of tones doesn’t reach over brown, ocher or English red, and the neutral backgrounds create wide veils on which compositions clot in a sensitive way that hides both knowledge and effort.
This great capacity of observing, almost in an oriental way, the common soul of things and of plastically expressing it along with its entire moral load, reveals one of the young painter’s greatest qualities.

published in the Cultural Observer, Bucharest, October 1991

Translated by Gaby Brezean