Since the beginning of the XXth century the history of art did’nt register major ideas/paradigms or disputes. As we know, almost all the art historians and critics asserted that there are only two major paradigms: the figurative and the abstract.
When I launched in 2000-2001, my new ideas about the archetypal art&archetypal expressionism, in the local media from Bucovina, Romania, I received no feedback from the art community.
I had the idea to invent this concept, after a serious study of the most representatives Romanian artists of the 20th century, from Brancusi to Maitec and Tuculescu, but also inspired by the works of some Modern masters like Klee and Mondrian and sure by the work of Carl Gustav Jung, who launched worldwide the concept „archetype”. In 2015, after I have read „The Red Book”by C. G. Jung, I had the surprise to discover that the paintings made by him over 100 years ago are very close to my vision about the archetypal expressionism: he used old archetypes, a palette of Expressionistic colours and pure colours one near the other, not mixed.
In 2000, when I launched this art concept/movement I was a known writer, journalist and art critic. The lack of interest regarding my new vision made me think to a challenging decision: to become the first artist to follow programmatically my own concept… Before becoming a writer, I was a gifted painter as a child and teenager, that’s why I returned with a great pleasure and hope to my first spiritual love. In 2002 I painted my first canvas in oil, in the studio of the French artist Maria Santarelli, in Saint Laurent du Pont, Isère, France, during an art workshop organized by me and my French partners.
In the first artwork dedicated to the Archetypal Expressionism series, ‘’Text and Time 1’’(collection of the Art Museum Drobeta Turnu Severin, Romania) I included fragments from my first published articles on the archetypal expressionism, in 2000 and 2001. My first solo show, ‘’Text and Time’’(Bucovina Museum, Suceava, September 2004) was very successful, because it was promoted by the art experts from the global television, EuroNews, probably being impressed by this new concept launched on the contemporary art scene. Another two of my solo shows of painting, from Stuttgart, Germany in 2004 and from Piatra Neamt, Romania, in 2009, have been highlighted by EuroNews and I was invited with solo shows by the largest and the oldest museum of contemporary art in Romania, The Museum of Visual Arts, Galati, in 2009, next year by the Art Museum from Drobeta Turnu Severin ( the city of my childhood) in 2010 and in 2016 by the prestigious Brukenthal National Museum, Sibiu, the oldest art museum in South-Eastern Europe. Many cultural journalists and art critics in my country began to write since 2004 about the new art concept, the archetypal expressionism, and later a lot of art specialists and visual artist from the global art community also became interested about it.
I created the first Archetypal Expressionism Group in October 2007, on ARTMESH. In February 2008, this group had 32 members, from 19 countries: Canada (Alberto Cerritos, Bianca Guna, James K-M), Denmark (Lars Heiberg, Mik Peter Rasmussen), Egypt (Khaled Siraq), France (Maria de Morais, Delphine Portier), Hungary (Beata Rostas), India (Manvendra Begerhotta), Ireland (Susanne Iles), Italy (Giulio Baistrocchi), Mexico (Paola Gonzalez), Netherlands (Maikel van Stralen), Norway (Elly Prestegaard), Poland (Lola Fischer), Portugal (Alberto D’Assumpcao), Romania (Simona Gocan, Constantin Severin), Russian Federation (Alex Schukin), Spain (Aitor Arakistain, David Heras Verde), Switzerland (Pia Baechler-Lehmann), UK (Bruce Rimell, Shaida Parveen), USA (Cile Bailey, Daniel Chavez, Matt Lewis, Cruz Montoya, Harry Spitz, Jamie Winter). You may read below the messages, wrote in 2008, by some important international artists, who joined this group founded on ARTMESH:
„I’ve got several responses to this thread and the group, so, amusingly, I thought I’d classify them…
The Practical Response: There are millions of artists out there, all swimming around like fish in a pond, all trying to get recognised. To align oneself with a paradigm can be a useful way of making a name. Admittedly it’s not really what I do, but if someone wants to make a movement out of a paradigm, more power to them.
The Annoyed Artist’s Response: For far too long, artists have been pushed into following paradigms that have largely been formulated by critics and commentators. As someone who teaches in an Art College I see this every day. Graduates struggle to break out of these paradigms after leaving, especially since many gallery owners actively encourage the continuation of this paradigmatism (good word, hey?). Here, at last, we seem to have a new or potentially new paradigm created by an artist, not a critic. Thus it has potential for genuine insight beyond the intellectual (which is all most critics can offer). I think this is a good thing.
The Thoughtful Artist’s Response: I will join this debate, I migth even align myself a bit with Archeptyal Expressionism for a while if I sense it is going somewhere and raising up some interesting questions for art in general and my work in particular. But I can never call myself an archetypal expressionist fully. I have never found a paradigm that fully fits my work and am very happy with that fact. I’m closer to visionary art really… no wait, more like petroglyphic art…um, no hang on, Keith Haring’s a big influence, so (cut!)
The Psychologist’s Response: Archetype in the original literature in which it was coined is a very specific set of experiences and phenomena, and thus indeed not everything an artist might produce would be, in my opinion, archetypal. Jung was very specific on what was archetype and what was more specific or personal. Which leads me to…
The Social Commentator’s Response (Exasperated): …if all artists ever produce are archetypes then this clicks into that John Forbes Nash slash John Buchanan model of humans as rational self-serving automatons, post-modernly devouring the past and repackaging it for the future. I don’t buy it, never did. If everything is archetype, then no new insights are available. This is not my experience as an artist or a human being.
New insights and experiences can become archetypes (Guernica…) but they must make the transition from the novel. If all artists produce nothing but archetype, then novelty is not possible, and thus we’re stuck in some fundamentalist postmodern paradigm. Humans don’t tend to act as models predict they do…
The Round-Up Response: …all of which goes to say that Archetypal expressionism can be a valid concept/movement/whatever since archetype is produced by only *some* artists, not all.
There is a stream running through art debates that seems a bit faux-transcendental to me “Well, in a way, all art is visionary… all art is archetypal, all art is (insert adjective X here)…” For me, I don’t buy that – archetypal work is not universally present in all art. Would you call what Tracey Emin does archetypal? I wouldn’t. It’s very personal, extremely particular…
Certain art is archetypal, and certain observers in a given state of mind might make art archetypal, but here, I think, we are speaking of archetypal as found in the artist’s expressive intentions…
For me, the responses I’ve had from Constantin regarding this paradigm have been quite personal, and quite referent to my work as an artist. This impresses me. Many people try to classify my work without really looking at it. I don’t get that impression with Constantin – I think he’s seen something in my work which chimes strongly, and that’s why I’m excited about this idea of his.
Peace and love!”
Bruce RIMMEL, UK
” constantin, first thanks for contacting me in the first place, second i am very sorry you did not get my first message let me try to reitterate,:
Your idea about archytpal expressionism intrigues me and makes a whole lot of sense to me … I am at the same time excited and intrigued. It may be the terminology
I have been looking for, or wanting to use in regards to my work. I wrote in the group that i thought maybe i would add abstract to it in the sense, that i pull these archytypes (a word i have in much of my writing and have been using since reading jung and exploring language theory such as levi-strauss) out of abstraction, I am interested in how paint or marks can suggest or trigger visual memory, and therefore, can be used in communication. How recall and use this information is part of what we call language, but give little credit to. My ideas for my ‘found head series”(for lack of better words), came out of the ideas of da vinci, max ernst, francis bacon, all my favorites, and it is as you say something primal that goes back to the beginnings of pictural representation.
I have never really thought of directly reusing archetypes of cultures from the past as you have, that is an interesting concept -maybe i do a little in the sense of making a image which recalls a likeness like einstein at the chalkboard … but I am more interested in general archytype, how the mind grasps concepts and images, how we are able to read abstraction as order. how we percieve … and then of course the elusive definition of beauty and how that is captured, formed and perpetuated by art. It has been somewhat a struggle to me to write down my thoughts and theories about this … but I am encouraged by your idea and think you have helped my break through something conceptually.
I had the thought and it is still early in our “friendship” having just met you to ask, but I would be interested in having you write something about my work for my website, maybe we could work out a trade for an artwork?
it just seems you are very clear on your ideas and saw something in my art.
I would love to read more of your theory and writing or to hear it directly from you and have a conversation.
my wife has yahoo messenger- but as i understand it you can only tye as we would here,
Skype is a free download (google it) and enables you with a simple microphone to make phone calls computer to computer (free) and computer to phone (small charges) around the world to other skype users. If you ever get it i would love to talk to you in person as i think our conversation might be lengthly and i dont think I could afford that to romania( but i could check the rates) until then chatting here will have to do.
hope to hear from you soon,
Rodney ARTILES, USA
I can’t tell you how important and embarassing was your message!!! For the first time in my life someone told me what my art is!!! I’m fighting everyday to go ahead, believing in my own proposal of beauty and harmony, as I believe art it is!!! And your words gave me that necessary courage to believe!!!
I’ll take you as one of my best friends and support.-
When I saw your artworks, I identified the same necessity to go to the bottom of our soul to bring that little treasure of harmony and happiness to create!
You don’t imagine how you have helped me!!!
With all my heart!”
Alberto D’ASSUMPCAO, Portugal
As you can see, I’m busy for teaching and several design projects (including VR & multimedia design), and this is my last semester to finish and present my thesis. But I’m always thinking of our collaboration, which will be very significant to me. It would be a new media project combining digital language and painting components. Ideally, I hope to converge digital animation, sound, interaction, or even live presentation, together to create an immersive experience in both real gallery & virtual space. “ARCHETYPAL EXPRESSIONISM” is a wonderful concept we may work with. Maybe using VR to interpret some of your poems as well?
VR projects usually cost a lot for the devices and software, we’d better have a detailed proposal for funding first. Your info for residency sounds very helpful too. Let’s plan it carefully. Thanks for your patience!
All my best,”
Digital Media, Visual Design Department
College of Visual & Performing Arts
University of Massachusetts Dartmouth
”It looks like our move is going smoothly. I should be up and running and ready to contribute more to your group in the next two weeks. I’m also in the process of scouting out gallery space here in Ireland.I would love to open a gallery where artist’s could show Archetypal artwork … it is an experience I think the general public and the world needs. Hopefully I will be able to do it this year.
I have a question for you … I found your blog online and would love to subscribe to it. Do you have a subscription button on your site? I tried to use the link at the very bottom of the page but it didn’t seem to be working.
Best to you … I look forward to speaking with you soon and contributing to the group.
In February 2015, I launched an art site with the best worldwide representatives of Archetypal Expressionism, in my opinion:
For many years I thought that my focus on the archetypal art, which in the twentieth century was represented by such major visual artists like Constantin Brancusi, Paul Klee or Ion Tuculescu, could be considered a marginal experience. But at the end of 2014, I was very surprised to find out about the new project from MoMA, New York City, FOREVER NOW, curated by Laura Hoptman:
Her project statement about the works of the 17 invited artists comes very close to my archetypal expressionism manifesto/statement, written almost 15 years before this exhibition and featured across numerous media outlets: “…whose work is atemporal, in a similar way: it is based on archetypal, symbolic forms that are by definition undatable, existing outside any specific time period .“This is indeed the essence of my art concept, too, written in different words.
A huge impact of the archetypal expressionism concept was noticed among many visual artists belonging to the native nations from America, Australia or New Zealand., like Maori artist Tepora Watene, who wrote:
‘’ When I created the collection of art for my Solo Exhibition titled ‘Forsaken’ I had not heard of Constantin Severin’s terminology; ‘archetypal expressionism’. At the time, my mission was to create art-works to portray an ancient people; their history, ‘sacred legend carriers’ and ‘sacred symbols/hieroglyphs’. More importantly it was a deep internal spiritual journey to discover my origins and ultimately my mission as an artist.
When first reading Constantin Severin’s definition of ‘archetypal expressionism’ I felt as though he was describing the process I used to create my ‘Forsaken Collection’. I was and still am elated, because finally I am connected to another person, furthermore another artist, who not only truly understands my art-form but can articulate it into words. Here in New Zealand, a lot of Maori Culture & Art is based upon that which has become known from last 200 or so years. It is wonderful to see contemporary indigenous/Maori art evolve from the carvings and weaving of the 1800’s and early 1900’s . However, in saying this, my quest is to connect with my ancient, historic origins; to do this I have spent 100’s of hours researching and seeking inner spiritual contact with my Tupuna (Ancestors).
Additionally I’ve spent 100’s of hours playing with shapes, symbols, paint, mixed media and various supports. I’ve only scratched the surface; there is a multitude of images within me waiting to be rendered, manifested into the physical realm. It is a juggle prioritising time between producing them or art for commissions, exhibitions and awards.
The constant internal struggle to earn a living versus living my art; my ultimate goal is to earn a living from living my art, ‘archetypal expressionism’. Kia ora Constantin, Arohanui tane.’’
Now you may read some of the texts written in the past by international art experts about my art, from which I quote more extensive passages below:
“Elements of expressionism and classical realism combine in the works of Constantin Severin. His rich-colored geometric compositions are combined with perfectly recognizable genre scenes that quote masters of realistic painting – Jan Vermeer, Diego Velazquez and others. On the one hand, the artist sets the idea of artistic evolution in his works. On the other hand, he demonstrates that Realism is just one of the many ways to accept and display the world.” (Olga BORTE, art critic and journalist, Moscow)
“We are proud to have included in the Lavacow Christmas Auction a work by Constantin Severin, whom we appreciate for the delicate mixture between different artistic styles, creating a harmonious all that succeeds to communicate, through a single artwork, the essence of the history of art.”(Cristina OLTEANU, CEO at LAVACOW Auction House, Bucharest)
“Symbols, lines, surfaces, spaces. All the humanity is made of mysterious symbols. And Constantin Severin uses them to write a new language of art. A language made of concepts, feelings, colours and emotions. Constantin travels in the past, in the ancient times and dimensions, to return in our present and tell about the possible futures. About the next lines of expression, to describe the present, drawing the future with past symbols. His own symbols.”(Luca CURCI, visual artist and architect, founder of “It’s Liquid” art magazine, Bari)
“We are looking forward to having Constantin Severin (the founder and promoter of the archetypal expressionism) and his group exhibiting at the Rotterdam International Art Fair. The works of Constantin is of a very interesting concept for our show. We are always looking for fresh new concepts and like to introduce these to our audience. We think that the archetypal expressionism – which lies between the two major paradigms of contemporary art, the figurative and the abstract – will do very well at the Art Fair, and we are looking forward to seeing the works in real-life.” (Joelle DINNAGE, Director at Global Art Agency Ltd)
“In literary and visual expression, but perhaps most notably in his clear-sighted theory of our present condition, Constantin Severin is breaking new ground. The concept of “Post-Literature” (which he has articulated in an article accessible at http://www.inst.at/trans/14Nr/severin14.htm) reveals him as one of the most original of contemporary thinkers concerning the nature of creative activity and the self-transformation that it is currently undergoing. One would be missing something important not to know of what Severin (situated of all places in Suceava, Romania) is up to. Take a look at the article, then search the web for his reductively symbolic paintings, which are on the verge of forging a new post-modern vocabulary from modernist precedent and nativist tradition. As western Europe declines, esthetically, morally, politically, something apparently is happening in Eastern Europe, and Severin is a part of it.” (Madison MORRISON, American writer)
The archetypal art, if it will be accepted by the global art community, could become an aesthetic bridge between Western and Oriental worlds, based on our common ancient roots and values.
Photo: ”Text and Time 1”, oil on canvas, 60×80 cm, 2004.