The Archetypal Expressionism at the National Brukenthal Museum


I’m very happy to share with the art lovers my next solo show from the newest Museum of Contemporary Art in Romania, founded in 2014, which belongs to the most prestigious and the oldest art museum in my country, founded 200 years ago, the National Brukenthal Museum, in Sibiu.

This amazing event, a turning point in my career as a visual artist, was possible after the decision of a national jury, formed by art historians and critics, curators, art experts from the Academic world and members of the the Brukenthal museum staff, who selected last year my art project. Many thanks to all of them.
The opening of my solo show, entitled ‘’The Signs of Time. Archetypal Energies’’, will be on October 12th , 2016, at 5 pm, EET and the art lovers can admire, until the 20th of November, 27 of my oil on canvas paintings and the the unique bifrons painting/installation, ‘’Janus’’.
The curator of my exhibition is the visual artist Robert Strebeli, the chief of the Heritage Conservation Department from the National Brukenthal Museum and the presentation text in the catalogue is signed by the art historian and critic Iulia Mesea, curator at the same art museum.

Robert Strebeli. Photo by

Robert Strebeli. Photo by

This exhibition is a representative selection from my recent artworks, which illustrate my new awarded art concept/movement , the Archetypal Expressionism.

The partners of this event are Suceava County Council and Eudaimonia Association, Bucharest.

Text and Time 112 (The Couple), oil on canvas, 70x90 cm, 2015.

Text and Time 112 (The Couple), oil on canvas, 70×90 cm, 2015.

THE SIGNS OF TIME. Archetypal energies.
The alchemy diary of a”Cucuteni painter”

by Iulia MESEA

A contemporary representative of the tendencies according to which art is a way of remembrance and contemplation of the Paradise Lost, Constantin Severin comes up with his creation as a potential solution, a returning to the essence, to the archaic, and the possible springs of art.
Honest and disinhibited, the artist lives intensely, feels deeply and wishes strongly to understand the meanings of the world and to freely communicate that which we may call his revelations. Writer, visual artist, journalist, founder of the Archetypal Expressionism, founder of the international group ”The Third Paradigm”, member of the German association “European Artists”, having participated in numerous personal and group, national and international exhibitions (The Metaphors of Time, Matrioska Identities, The Alchemic City, My Archetypal Suceava), in Germany (2004 and 2005), Norway (2009), the Visual Arts Museum of Galati (2009), with works exhibited in collections in Romania, Germany, Canada, England, Finland, USA, Norway, Italy, Switzerland and Ukraine, Constantin Severin stands out through the complexity and tenacity with which he submits his message to our analysis, understanding and enjoyment.
The works selected for the exhibition at Brukenthal National Museum are illustrative of his stylistic options, for the way he has chosen to establish a means of communication with the spectator. His artworks sometimes look like pages from an esoteric book, with still unknown alphabets, or like works of nature, works of soil erosion caused by waters or winds. Constantin Severin’s creations evoke the avant-garde space, a territory of freedom, which is an essential condition for any artistic experiment. Proposing the concept of Archetypal Expressionism, the painter wants to clarify his terms, framework, inspirational sources, artistic message and techniques of expression, providing the spectator with ways and keys to the metabolism and process of his creation. In his view, the Archetypal Expressionism is defined by resorting to the archetype as an essential element of language, by finding mankind’s common cultural roots after removing the superficial, superfluous and accidental accretions of time: “The Archetypal Expressionism is to be found between the two major paradigms of contemporary art: the figurative and the abstract. It represents a spiritual search for common roots beyond history’s tragic accidents. It is an art suspended between the real and the imaginary, requiring rigour and mystery”, the artist says, including here the creation of Brancusi, Klee and Țuculescu, whom he considers his mentors.
The return in time, to the archetypal areas of culture and mankind, to primeval ages, when the being melted with the universe, can be claimed by the very contents of the Expressionism. The pure and bright colour in the artworks signed by Constantin Severin breathes, nonetheless, the harsh and painful expressionist violence specific to the concept, relating more to Robert Delauney’s solar-like chromaticism. The emphasis added by the painter, who calls this paradigm Archetypal Expressionism, wishes to circumscribe his favourite sources, themes and motifs. “The archetype is a universal symbol. The archetypal fields are real, a mystery of the universe.”
The fascination that Constantin Severin sees in the archetypal forms lies precisely in their complexity and depth, in that determining and everlasting thing which, like music, enthrals and cannot be worded without impairing its aura. In eluding the figurative by using pictograms and ideograms – that is a recourse to ancient ways of graphic communication – the artist attempts to reach the profound human resources of understanding and feeling, to connect with the clear and pure levels of our subconscious and establish correlations and contextualizations, bringing several stages of the past into a dialogue with the present and giving rise to new and unexpected integrative constructions, to which the spectator feels s/he belongs: “The archetypes have a secret power because they have been used for thousands of years by large groups of populations and now are a part of our inner, hidden life.” It seems that the artists aspires to awaken from a millenary slumber a gift of the primordial humans, who lived and felt closer to gods, something lost by modern people, that is the “intuitive”, synthetic, somewhat superhuman, thinking, which can be accessed in the modern world only through symbols, as an essence of the human or superhuman reality. Thus the creative endeavour wants to break free from the artificialness of “high” art, the link to primitive art being highlighted by its magical, incantatory and ritual function, too.
Constantin Severin’s main artistic features are complexity and simplicity, two apparently oppositional terms, the contents of which are employed, however, in such a manner that they coexist and sustain each other in his art. The viewer is consequently challenged either to analyse, synthesize and interpret by reading symbols with a simple figuration and a ludic arrangement, or to find out the right reading in a maze of keys and linked, nuanced and chromatically potentiated signs.
The most frequently quoted archetypes are the “primordial”, primitive culture statuettes. The Thinker of Hamangia of the Neolithic Age, the violin-shaped nubile statuettes of the Cucuteni and Gumelnița cultures, joined by Las Meninas and Pope Innocent X by Velasquez, Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine, Andrea Mantegna’s The Dead Christ, Jan van Eyck’s The Arnolfini Portrait and so on.
By sublimating the utilitarian function through repeated figurations, recasts and stylisations, a distaff takes on new connotations, one of them being the Lyre of Orpheus – whose godly music is a mythical archetype for the power of art; then, the power trident, the caduceus, a symbol of transformation, of energies that fight and complete each other at the same time, or the axis mundi.
The concatenation formed by a repeat of the motifs/ the stylized distaff or statuette, the geometrical figure, and so on/ is meant to bring about movement and life to the composition contents. Prehistory art motifs such as spirals, circles, ovoids, ellipses, lines, bands, solar or heavenly symbols, alphabet signs, incisions, or dados, together with their arrangement in intertwined spirals, sectioned, reduced to curlicues, meanders, laid out in horizontal, vertical, oblique, circular, concentric or other kinds of rows, provide, through their placement, symmetry, balance, rhythm and raise geometric symbolism to art status. The multiplication and manifold use of signs, forms and geometric shapes give colour and create gateways to other dimensions, in hope for an ability to ignore the constraints of the logic of time and space.
The mono-, bi-, or trichromatic colour, employed like in the painted ceramics of the primordial cultures, is endowed with an expressive force so as to attain musical sonorities that uphold the rhythm of each composition, accomplished either through sign strings, or through an interplay between the full and the void, hiatuses and changes of pace, or through reflections and echoes. In the monochromatic works, the forms begin to appear discreetly, yet with suggestive force, from different nuances or textures, where colour seems to spring up and radiate. The synesthetic effects are not accidental, the painter considering music as the supreme art.

Iulia Mesea

Iulia Mesea

Text and time. The creative word, “In the beginning was the Word” and the absolute time. The artist obsessively and implicitly resumes the time theme in his attempt to seize in his work this ineffable dimension, which he, at least, succeeds in marking off as a transition space, forever the same and forever slipping away. Janus installation (Janus Bifrons is a god of passage rituals and transition phenomena) alludes to this very moment of fluidity between the past and the future, fundamentally relying on quotations from classical art (Leonardo da Vinci’s Lady with an Ermine).
Classical masterpieces, as cultural archetypes, show up in several compositions that are part of the expressionist archetypal series Text and Time, alternating with the primordial archetype. The Arnolfini Portrait (Jan van Eyck) (Text and Time 65), marked by linear and chromatic segments, contributes to the consolidation of one of the cultural evolution layers, the couple and the birth symbol being rendered essential in an orphic manner, then in the two united semicircles of light from another layer of history. The symbolism of colours, in simultaneous and complementary contrasts, nuances the message and strengthens the visual impact.
In a composition whose meanings coagulate in a construction of overlapping planes, or planes that deepen thanks to the dynamic play of segments of lines, forms and colours (Text and Time 7), one of the Neolithic masterpieces of Hamangia becomes a generator, keeper and creator of successive cultural layers. In the composition Text and Time 94, similarly made, the primordial cultural archetype supports and feeds the classical masterpiece through an effusion of colours.
In this way, by means of carefully chosen and compositionally related signs, Constantin Severin establishes new significations, challenging us to think again and differently about apparently known ideas and values. When the play or the confrontation of forms seems slow, pure colour adds dynamic accents that lead to retakes and reinterpretations.
Between poetic feelings and intellectual tensions, juggling with elements of highly visual impact – pure colour, iconic image, inner rhythms, and so forth – Constantin Severin engages the spectator in a network of correlations, synapses, interpretations and emotions. His artworks, metaphors with a magic flavour, are meant to unleash intuitions and feelings so as to return to truths that mankind has forgotten but are still to be found in a latent state in our subconscious. Thus, we are invited to rediscover that which once was self-evident, that divine seed hidden deep inside us, in an endeavour of “healing” the contemporary world, confronted by confusions and destructive reversals of values.

English version by Dumitru Ovidiu Solonar


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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