The Wall: Oltre il muro delle parole
Dimensions: 20.44 x 19.44″
Media: intaglio on paper
Edition: 1/5 STII
“The Wall” is perhaps the quintessential representation of Traian Filip’s artistic career. Here, the wall represents the wall of words erected to control the Romanian people. The skeleton on the horse with a ladder to an unreachable boat depicts the remoteness of the chance for escape to a different reality. In the foreground, Filip depicts Ceausescu’s face on the body of a starving dog. Simultaneously, the fickle ruler holds a scepter, oblivious to his own fate. He wears a bird cage on his head, representing the fact that his thoughts were bought.
Traian Alexandru Filip’s works can be found in top museum and private collections internationally, including the Vatican Museum’s contemporary art collection and various museums throughout Europe and the United States. A comprehensive monograph titled Traian Alexandru Filip:His Art and Life won an outstanding art book award upon its publication in 1994.
Filip was born in Bucharest, Romania, and lived there until 1989, when he escaped the debilitating regime of Nicolae Ceausescu. Filip was at the time the head of the Romanian State Engraving Studio, where he secretly created and printed subversive etchings highly critical of Ceausescu’s repressive government. Filip was a master of the a la poupee etching technique, in which the artist applies the ink for each print individually, with a cloth-covered tool. Thus, each etching within an edition bears the unique aspect of the artist’s hand.
After escaping to Sweden for an exhibition of his work, Filip settled in France. He was offered residence in the United States due to his designation as an artist of exceptional talent by the United States government, and he lived in the United States until his death in 1993.
While Filip’s personal story is fascinating, the real intrigue of his work lies in its dense art historical symbolism and skill. Filip was a fastidious scholar of symbolism, often asking his librarian friends to sneak books out of the Romanian National Library so he could learn more about banned subjects such as alchemy, homeopathy, and ancient art symbols. He used such symbols to tell the story of the life of Romanian intellectuals and artists during this tumultuous time in history.