Born in Zăpodeni, Romania in 1946, ION BÂRLĀDEANU worked as a farmer, docker, security guard and grave-digger, before becoming a full-time artist. Although he had been creating satirical drawings and collages from a young age, it was the Romanian Revolution of 1989 which really brought his creative practice into the light.
The long reign of militant communist leader Nicolae Ceausescu was an era of extreme censorship, draconian politics and state violence. It was during this time that BÂRLĀDEANU began his oeuvre, assembling subversive commentaries and illustrating them with collage and caricature. If discovered, this sarcastic imagery could have led to BÂRLĀDEANU's imprisonment; yet he continued to make, ignoring any fears of incarceration.
The execution of Ceausescu and the subsequent fall of Communism both liberated and crippled the country, as hundreds and thousands of manual labourers found themselves without work. For BÂRLĀDEANU, the lack of employment brought with it a freedom. Technically homeless, what he had was time; and so he would spend his days sifting through discarded newspapers and magazines for imagery to assemble into film-stills.
BÂRLĀDEANU’s collages should be considered as a filmography. They employ many of the formal properties of film: they are presented in Cinemascope (2.35:1), use Hollywood stars wherever possible, and are constructed on miniature sets, where the actors are organised in dynamic action and against epic backdrops.
In BÂRLĀDEANU’s oeuvre, hypocrisy is punished and the humanist spirit prevails. The world is in the midst of chaos, be it the fall of the Soviet regime, or the influx of pop culture and capitalism. His is a dense drama of triumph and fall, where cigarettes are the currency and every argument is settled with a bottle or a gun.
It was a chance meeting with contemporary curator Dan Popescu which brought BÂRLĀDEANU into the public eye. He has since been the subject of numerous group and solo shows, including the 2015 Vienna Biennale and The Museum of Everything at Kunsthal Rotterdam in 2016. BÂRLĀDEANU’s work has been featured in The Guardian and Vice Media and is included in numerous international collections.
His collages are in numerous international collections, including Emilian Radu Collection (Romania) and La Collection Antoine de Galbert (France).
Artistul la Treizeci de ani, Dan Popescu, Alexandru Davidian (Arcub, Bucharest) 2016
...de porc, Erwin Kessler (Bucharest, Cluj) 2010
RealPolitik, Dan Popescu (H'art Gallery) 2007
EXHIBITION #6, THE KUNSTHAL OF EVERYTHING (Rotterdam) 2016
Ion Bârlādeanu: Against All Odds MUU Gallery (Helsinki) 2015