A Touch of Venus
Dimensions: 41.75 x 52.5″
Media: acrylic on canvas
In his acrylic on canvas work, George Mazilu portrays the the Roman goddess Venus, who is associated with love, beauty, and sex. Mazilu complicates these historical associations by placing her within a more contemporary scene, using the children and interiority to convey domesticity or motherhood. The apples in the foreground of the work engage with Venus’ fertility; Mazilu employs iconography in such a way as to juxtapose the past and present, allowing him to draw from his classical training while employing a more personal approach.
While Georges Mazilu’s oeuvre often focuses on the human form—despite his characters’ unusual proportions and physical compositions—his works begin as loose abstractions that gain recognizability through process. Mazilu describes his paintings as mapping the transition from unconscious to conscious processing and often navigate the tension between his ‘will’ and ‘possibilities’. Mazilu was born in Romania and quickly developed an affinity for producing art, eventually pursuing formal training at the prestigious Grigorescu Institute of Fine Arts. After following what might be considered a classical education, Mazilu’s work began to develop a contemporary edge as it encountered the swell of modern art. Mazilu’s works often combine realism with the absurd and touch on the styles of canonical surrealist artists like Hieronymus Bosch or Salvador Dali. Mazilu’s paintings employ muted color palettes and simple backgrounds, drawing viewers’ attention to his carefully rendered characters posing in formal portraiture style or displaying less-than-human behavior.
Georges Mazilu escaped Romania during the Ceausescu regime, in the early 1980s. He spent numerous years living and painting in France and Spain. His works are in esteemed musuem collections throughout the world, including those of the Denver Art Museum, Fine Arts Museums of San Francisco, and Tucson Museum of Art. The most recent museum to acquire his paintings is in Australia, and the earliest museum to aquire his works was the Museum of Contemporary Art in Sofia, Bulgaria. Mazilu is a highly collectible artist, with a monograph written by Sam Hunter, Professor Emeritus of Art History at Princeton University, and several essays by South African Anti-Apartheid author, Andre Brunke.
By Keira Seidenberg, Art History/Gender Studies student, McGill University