”NanoArt is a new art movement and is universal accepted as a new art discipline by the art community”.
Interview with the visual artist Cris Orfescu
Q: Dear Cris, it seems that ”transition” is a major word for your destiny, you made until now some successful transitions: from the Romanian culture and civilization, to the American; from the Romanian language and way of thinking, to the English; from science and technology to art. You are now among those intellectuals who are very active in the heart of change. Is ”transition” a memento of our age, as many of us are thinking?
A: Yes, active is the word. I am a dynamic individual living in a dynamic world. I think that “transition” is a voluntary memento of our age. Not everyone in our generation is active. We are the Post-War World II generation, the Baby Boomers or Generation X, and we are transitioning on a need basis. The Millennial generation or Generation Y which follows us seems to have the “transition” factor built-in, they are born more dynamic. It’s just a response of the human’s adaptability to a dynamic society. And going back to myself, I just fear boredom. I have to try new things continuously. I look for and accept new challenges. Often I work on several projects in the same time. Some people say that my energy level is very high. Change is the drive here and is like a perpetuum mobile: the more I do, the more I would like to do. I wish this will never stop… There are so many things I would like to do…I feel like I am running out of time. There is no limit in what someone can create as a scientist or/and an artist. I am trying to do the most out of “the unlimited” in a limited time.
Q: Maybe running out of time being in time is the destiny of a major creator, a kind of laceration. Levure littéraire dedicated this issue to the creative evolution of an artist’s life, with all its pitfalls, disappointments, resignations, anxieties, pleasures and ephemeral experiences. When did you have the first signs that you are going to become an artist?
A: Here is how it started. This sounds funny, but during the first 5 grades, my mom used to draw and paint for me. In the 6th grade, I guess I had a crush on my art teacher, because I finished all my art projects by myself. I even had one of my paintings exhibited at a national salon (Sala Dalles) in Bucharest. In the 8th grade, one of my collages was awarded with the 4th place in a national competition and I got a honorary mention. Since then, I experimented for over 40 years with different media and art forms, including digital art, murals, acrylics and oil painting, mixed media, faux painting, trompe l’oeil, collage, graphics, animation, web design, video, multimedia, photography. For the last 30 years, I was working on the NanoArt project, developing my technique and style.
Q: You are now among the few international artists who created and promoted a new and successful art concept, NanoArt, which reflects your amazing transition from Science to Art through Technology. The famous newspaper, New York Times, dedicated an article to your art vision and you’ve been a special guest of the prestigious Prince of Asturias Awards, Oviedo, Spain, in 2008 with a NanoArt solo show. Can you tell us the story of NanoArt and its impact on the contemporary art scene?
A: I was always interested in nanotechnology as a cutting edge technology capable of changing our lives. I was fascinated by the structure of matter at ultra small scale, and combining my art and science backgrounds I began to develop my NanoArt process over 30 years ago. I see myself as an artist and a scientist equally. The challenge for me is in the creativity power that both art and science offer. As far as the NanoArt story, I consider that early NanoArt period (although not recognized as art) started when the first commercial electron microscope was available, in the late 1930s. Siemens produced the first commercial transmission electron microscope (TEM) in 1939. Even though the scientists who were imaging those tiny structures apparently didn’t have any artistic intention, they created images that could be considered artworks, in my opinion. Not to mention that sample preparation for electron microscopy is science and art in the same time and is responsible for more than 50% of a successful analysis. One of the first nanoartists in history, probably without his intention and knowledge was George Emil Palade (1912 –2008), a Romanian cell biologist. Described as “the most influential cell biologist ever”, in 1974 he was awarded the Nobel Prize in Physiology and Medicine together with Albert Claude and Christian de Duve. The prize was granted for innovations in electron microscopy and cell fractionation which together laid the foundations of modern molecular cell biology. The George E. Palade Electron Microscopy Slide Collection of electron microscopy images at Yale University is freely available to students and scientists worldwide. The end of the 20th Century would be the second NanoArt period, when all technological-scientific-artistic conditions were in place for the NanoArt to evolve in a new art discipline. Let’s not forget that we are now in a New Renaissance period, and NanoArt is a reflection of the technological movement and a logical follow-up of the Nanotechnology development. The third NanoArt period started at the beginning of this century, NanoArt being now recognized as a new art discipline, I would say an artistic-scientific discipline. Scientists are exploring now the nanoworld hoping to find a better future and there is evidence that nanotechnology might be the answer. Since the nanoworld is so interesting and aesthetically sound, there are a lot of scientists or artist-scientist teams who manipulate the scientific imagery they capture and create new artworks. The NanoArt movement is alive and is catching up a lot of speed lately. I will give you a couple of examples: when I started to organize the international online competition there were no similar projects. Now there are a lot of NanoArt contests organized by Universities and scientific societies. The artists, in general, are very interested in novelty. Definitely, NanoArt is a new art movement and is universal accepted as a new art discipline by the art community. We have a very active and rapidly expanding group of international artists. One of the biggest challenges that nanoartists are facing is to exhibit their artworks for the general public. It is pretty difficult and non-productive to carry an electron microscope to the exhibition venue. So, artists and scientists have to find creative ways to bring those “invisible” artworks in front of large audiences. I founded the NanoArt 21 several years ago to educate people worldwide and promote this new art discipline and movement and to help artists showing their works to the general public. We organize the International Online Competition each year, the International Festival of NanoArt, and NanoArt 21 group exhibitions in brick-and-mortar galleries all over the world.
Q: What is the impact of this new art movement in your native country? Are you interested by a solo show in a major art gallery or art museum from Romania?
A: There are several scientists/artists in Romania who participated at NanoArt competitions and festivals organized by NanoArt 21 (http://nanoart21.org) worldwide. Elena Lucia Constantinescu participated at several editions of the NanoArt International Online Competition coming in TOP 10 and also at the International Festival of NanoArt in Stuttgart, Germany. Mirela Suchea and I.V. Tudose participated at the NanoArt International Online Competition coming in TOP 10 at the 6th edition. You can view their works on the NanoArt 21 online gallery at http://nanoart21.org/nanoart-exhibitions/. We are preparing a NanoArt International Festival at Alexandru Ioan Cuza University in Iasi, next September. I would be happy to have a solo show in a major art gallery or art museum in Romania. In the past, I was approached by a couple of people to exhibit over there, but nothing materialized so far.
Q: NanoArt is really a reflection of the technological movement and we live in a New Renaissance period, as we both think. What other new tendencies in art did you notice, fitted to our post-literary epoch, when we experiment the co-existence, even merging of fields heretofore exhibiting autonomous profiles in time: that is, philosophy, art and science/technology?
A: There are other new art forms that define the role of art in a technological society like ours, and I am thinking contemporary new media art which incorporates all art created with new media technologies like digital art, video art, computer graphics, computer animation, game design, interactive art, net art, fractal art, algorithmic art, virtual reality. These forms of art are used a lot in advertising, movie making, and publishing, and are a natural following of the technological development. These days, art is moving away from traditional forms allowing people to build their own artistic experience. The interactivity of the Internet inspires the contemporary new media art. Social activism, environmental art, energy art are present also in these new forms of creation and communication. Contemporary new media art is multidisciplinary and artists have to learn new emerging technological platforms to be able to create these new types of artworks.
“…artists face a fundamental hurdle trying to represent the molecular landscapes of various materials, where features are measured in nanometers… For abstractionists like Mr. Orfescu though, such limitations are simply invitations to let color and shape-shifting run wild.” (The New York Times)
“NanoArt is a glimpse into an unbelievably tiny world that only a small number of scientists have viewed. For the average person, the realm of nanotechnology — that is, structures smaller than a billionth of a meter — is as remote and inaccessible as the moon. But nanoartist Cris Orfescu wanted to change that. He created the NanoArt Exhibition to share the beauty of the nano-world with those of us living in the macro-world… Although you may be interested in learning what the image is, Orfescu wants the public to see the nano-world independent of its source, for just its simple beauty” (Discovery News)
“Artist and scientist Cris Orfescu manipulates chemicals and creates nano-sculptures, which he then blows up into large artworks with an electron scanning microscope.” (The Wall Street Journal)
Cris Orfescu was born in Bucharest, Romania, and lives and works in Los Angeles since 1991. He is a self-taught artist and also a degreed scientist who is experimenting for over 40 years with different media and art forms including digital art, murals, acrylic and oil painting, mixed media, faux painting, trompe l’oeil, collage, graphics, animation, web design, video, multimedia.
More than 25 years he is experimenting and perfecting a new art form, NanoArt, which reflects the transition from Science to Art through Technology.
“Shouting their presence in loud shades of red, blue and yellow, artist and scientist Cris Orfescu’s images look first like abstract pieces. The colorful curves, angular lines and sudden bursts that command the canvases appear to be the fantastical expression of the artist’s whim and creative taste…Orfescu’s partner in the exhibit, photographer Rick Chinelli, said “personally, I think that Cris works on another level both physically and mentally.” (Pasadena Star News)
Orfescu was showing internationally his awarded works in USA, Italy, France, Finland, Korea, UK, Ireland, Spain, Germany, Colombia, Greece in numerous solo and group exhibitions. His art was commissioned for public and private collectors.
“Cris Orfescu lives in a fun universe, populated by phantasmagoric creatures which one would say come from another planet… In his studio-lab he is having a good time sculpting the imperceptible.” (translated from the French magazine Stuff)
“Cris Orfescu is one of the most actual artists, a child of our time, a post-literary epoch, when we experiment the co-existence, even merging of fields heretofore exhibiting autonomous profiles in time: that is, philosophy, art and science/ technology… Every solo show by Cris Orfescu is a cutting-edge show of post-literature (I also named it, Leonardo’s paradigm), a true memento of our epoch, where philosophy, art and science/technology (nanotechnology) are intermingled. Modulations of dynamic forms, vital intensity of radiant, bright and expressive colours, structured by a wild harmony of the invisible world, are all subordinated to a secret music of spheres. In all his assertions, Cris is convinced that the old language of art is no longer adequate for the human actual consciousness. Cris Orfescu is a Fauvist of the micro-universes.” (Constantin Severin-The Alchemical City)
Cris Orfescu’s site: http://crisorfescu.com/