Ada Kaleh art project

My major, almost daily obsession/passion in the last years is Ada Kaleh, the island of my childhood. When I was 9-11 years old I lived with my parents in Turnu Severin, an old and beautiful town known as the ’’city of roses’’, at the Danube. We used to go by ship to the small exotic Ada Kaleh island with a Mediterranean climate and flora, 1700 long/500 wide, an oriental paradise, with around 1,000 inhabitants, most of them Turkish origin. All of them grew up in the light of a strange and very ancient oath of allegiance: those who left the island had to come back to die and to be buried at home-the island with catacombs haunted by children or ghosts, the island with strong and passionate love stories, the island with a vivid and spectacular history of over 2000 years, from the Roman empire epoch.

I remember with a special nostalgy the white mosque in the middle of this magic place, the oriental architecture of the houses and the narrow streets with Medieval stones, the ruins of an Austrian fortress built on the 18th century, the kind people who sold us the delicious Turkish delight, millet beer, khalva, nougat or the unique roses jam. My parents sat down on a terrace to drink the coffee boiled on fine sand and smoke tobacco with the nargilehs…

In 1971 I was 19 years old, I lived in Suceava, East-Northern Romania and I read in the newspapers that I’ll never have the chance to return on the island of my childhood…The communist rulers from Romania and Jugoslavia decided to build a big hydro-electric powerplant on the Danube, on this area called the Iron Gates and Ada Kaleh disappeared forever in the waters of the huge lake with all its historical treasures.

Nobody wrote untill now about the tragedy of the inhabitants of the island, so conservatives in their habits and who loved so much this mythic place. Such aspects of life could’nt be reflected by the Communist media and after the 1989 revolution these people ( desplaced to other Romanian places oreven in Turkey) have been forgotten by the national community and intelectuals. Now they cannot respect the ancient oath of allegiance, they cannot die and be buried on the native space…

I feel I must find the necessary moment to interrupt other art and literary projects and dedicate my whole efforts to the Lost Island…A novel or an art exhibition about Ada Kaleh, the immersed island, could liberate my obsession.
The support of former inhabitants and possible patrons is welcomed.


I have good news for the 32 Facebook members of Ada Kaleh art project (one of them is the famous film director Martin Scorsese). Dan Basarab Nanu, the director of the Museum of Visual Art from Galati, Romania, the first and the most important museum of contemporary art in my country, invited me to dedicate next year an art exhibition to Ada Kaleh.

I’d like to present for this unique show not only paintings, oil on canvas, but also instalations (with photos from the former inhabitants and objects belonging to them, etc) and video-art (especially stories of the tragedy of the inhabitants who have been forced to leave their homes for ever).

Now I’m already in touch with a former inhabitant of Ada Kaleh, Mr. Omer Kadri, who asserted to join all my projects dedicated to the memory of this unique place (he has over 500 photos and many documents regarding the history of the island).

I hope we may find together the financial support for Omer Kadri to publish all these documents and photo-archive.


I have the pleasure to announce you that one of the best contemporary British artists, Gordon Cheung, represented by 4 major Western art galleries, joined the project of the future exhibition from the Museum of Visual Art, Galati, Romania, dedicated to Ada Kaleh.
Now we are looking for a major Turkish artist, a female, to join this project (as a symbol, due to the fact that the great majority of the inhabitants of the former small Atlantis of Romania were of Turkish origins).
If some of you has an images[19]idea about the possible sponsors of this important international art event, please tell us.

About Constantin Severin

Constantin Severin ( is a Romanian writer and, as a visual artist, the founder and promoter of the award-winning concept known as archetypal expressionism. He is the author of eight books of poetry, essays, and novels, and his poems have been published by major Romanian and international literary magazines. He is one of the editors of the French cultural magazine Levure littéraire.
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