To Leave is to Die a Little
Dimensions: 19.5 x 13.75″
Media: intaglio on paper
Filip’s “To Leave is to Die a Little” is a highly personal work. Filip fled Romania out of necessity, leaving his two children and wife behind. He feared retaliation upon them, and his love of his family and his homeland burned in his heart, as he depicts in this image.
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.