Romanian-born artist Florian-Doru Crihana has over three decades of artistic practice and over 80 awards behind him. His career started when he decided to move away from his engineering career and immerse himself more deeply in visual arts. Although he was a satirist and has won awards for his satirical drawings, a turn to paintings revealed his full creative potential.
Topics the artist explores evolved over the years, from satirical reflections on the dictatorship in Romania to present explorations of modern cities and the details hiding in plain view that many of us miss.
His pieces bring you to the uncanny places where imaginary and real create new and exciting combinations. Other works lead you to towns where Picasso walks by his famous Les Demoiselles d'Avignonor Albert Einstein takes a central part in a time-counting machine.
Crihana's process may seem simple at first; he mainly uses cardboard and oil paint, as they proved to be the most enduring and resistant. However, the development of a new series often takes a few weeks. He conceives the idea and researches each new place he wants to depict in detail. A devotion to the topic is evident in its treatment, filled with affection, inquisitive eye, and respect for the depicted subjects.
His paintings are contemplations of the places and ideas, done in simple yet effective forms, full of intricate details, and filled with a peaceful atmosphere. They offer a repost from our hectic world and lead us into surreal spaces of the artist's imagination that are still familiar to us.
To learn more about his unique practice, we talked with Florian-Doru Crihana and asked him about his process, artistic beginning, and future plans.
Left: Florian-Doru Crihana - Biltmore Hotel, Clock in Palmcourt, 2017. New York series. Oil on cardboard, 40x30cm © Florian Doru Crihana, Artios Gallery / Right: Florian-Doru Crihana - Carnegie Hall Chandelier, 2017. New York series. Oil on cardboard, 40x30cm © Florian Doru Crihana, Artios Gallery
From Isolation to International Acclaim
Widewalls: You started your art career as a satirist, publishing your first satirical cartoons during the communist era in Romania. Can you tell us more about your beginnings? How did you decide to drop your engineering career and pursue art instead?
Florian-Doru Crihana: Although an engineer, I loved drawing cartoons, and I took every opportunity to express myself. My friends encouraged me to draw and publish. At the same time, I began thinking about participating in international cartoon competitions. Success at the European Cartoon competitions made me consider submitting my drawings as well. They allowed me to express my opinion on contemporary society using an international language: drawing and color.
I discovered many new themes I could approach and explore in my artistic works. In one of these international competitions, I got confirmation of my art, which made me decide to drop my engineering career forever.
Widewalls: How would you describe the place satire occupied during this turbulent period?
FDC: Many of my works from that turbulent period were adapted to the circumstances of the time, and they mainly referred to a life lived in isolation. Other topics, such as international politics, are constantly repeating, and I've dealt with them in the past.
Left: Florian Doru Crihana - Decoration of Flatiron Building, 2017. New York series. Oil on cardboard, 40x30cm © Florian Doru Crihana, Artios Gallery / Right: Florian Doru Crihana - Time...A Joke, 2012. Collection 21 Centuries. Oil on cardboard, 40x30cm © Florian Doru Crihana, Artios Gallery
Discovering Architectural Beauty
Widewalls: Recently, you took up drawing cityscapes, immortalizing places such as Nuremberg and Barcelona. What drew you to this subject?
FDC: I realized many years ago that I had a particular talent for noticing details or specific things that other people did not see or have not paid much attention to. I sometimes do a mental exercise. I imagine myself being in a historically significant town - that's why I have chosen Nuremberg and Barcelona - trying to discover their beautiful buildings and monuments.
Widewalls: You mainly use cardboard as a base for your works. Can you tell us more about your technique and choice of materials?
FDC: It was the simplest technique I could use in the 1980s, at hand and cheap. But it took me several years to improve it. The absorption was a problem. That's why I had to use oil paints and a specific type of cardboard, the one that is used for packaging. The unprepared cardboard is soft, and it contains a certain percentage of silicon that stops absorption. I extract the excess oil from the oil paints. The oil that remains is used as a binder.
Widewalls: How do you think your practice has developed over the years? Have you experimented with other formats and topics?
FDC: I am devoted to my technique because it has proven to be resilient over time. After thirty years, my work looks as good as when I did it. I have hardly used methods taught in schools. They didn't attract me. In addition to the theme of cities, here are some of the others: the Banks series, the Don Quixote de la Mancha series, the Sturgeon series, the 21 Centuries series, the Steampunk series, the Titanic series, the Fly series, the Middle-Class Happiness series and many more.
Florian Doru Crihana - The Tor, 2012. Collection 21 Centuries. Oil on cardboard, 40x30cm © Florian Doru Crihana, Artios Gallery
The Working Process and Future Plans
Widewalls: Can you tell us something about your working process?
FDC: First, I chose a theme and a title. The choosing process lasts about three months. It takes me a few weeks to think about the possible topics I could explore in my drawings. For example, when I choose a town, it has to be crossed by a river. Then, I needed another two weeks to study and find the characteristic symbols of that place, which became my drawing's starting point. I use a separate sketchbook for each theme. The sketch size is usually 8 x 5 cm. Then, I take a one-day break to decide if I like the result. If satisfied, I start to draw on the cardboard that is always the same size, 30 x 40 cm. It takes me about two days to color it.
Widewalls: How much has the global pandemic affected your practice?
FDC: During the pandemic, I was able to undertake several major new projects. I also felt a deep appreciation for my loyal clients. Surprisingly for me, the sales have not fallen too much.
Widewalls: Can you share some of your current and future projects?
FDC: Currently, I am working on two projects: one is about the city of Munich, and the other is about the Danube Delta. At the same time, I am finishing my first drawings about the Wall Street - New York Stock Exchange.
Author: Eli Anapur / Editor at Widewalls