Interview with Livia GREACA: My relationship with art grew in parallel with my personal evolution, becoming a state of total symbiosis

Livia Greaca was born in 1997 in Dragășani, Vâlcea county, Romania. She is a graduate of the “Victor Giuleanu” Arts High School in Râmnicu Vâlcea, where she studied tapestry and textile arts under the guidance of Professor Traian Ștefan Boicescu.

Later, she followed her undergraduate and master’s studies at the National University of Arts Bucharest, Department of Textile Design and Textile Arts, specializing in Screen Printing and Environmental Textile Arts, under the supervision of Prof. Dr. Daniela Frumușeanu.

She was invited to participate in numerous group exhibitions organized by important exhibition spaces in Bucharest, including Elite Art Gallery, Galeria Galateca, or MNȚR plus C. At the same time, her works were exhibited at Art Safari Bucharest and the Diploma Festival, organized by The Institute.

When did you feel that you were meant to be an artist?

I can say that this awareness of my calling as an artist was articulated with the greatest aplomb during college—that time full of creative questioning at the onset of maturity, when play and learning took a back seat. At that stage, which was a moment of understanding the mechanisms and dynamics behind art, I also knew the expressive power of visual arts. Then I deliberately felt that it was my purpose to express my sensibility in and through this world.

However, if I were to refer to the actual experience of this mood, it certainly has its roots much earlier, accompanying me since childhood, like a filter applied to my inner reality. My relationship with art grew in parallel with my personal evolution, reaching a state of total symbiosis. From play and curiosity, forms of artistic expression turned into passions, then fields of study, later professions, and even ways of being.

Livia Greaca, “Chroma”, artistic installation, MNȚR plus C, Bucharest, 2022

You graduated from the “Victor Giuleanu” Arts High School in Râmnicu Vâlcea. You continued your studies at the National University of Arts Bucharest (bachelor and master), Department of Textile Design and ArteTextile. To what extent did your academic experience help your artistic evolution, especially in developing your personal style?

I am convinced that both my artistic evolution and the shaping of my personal style were strongly marked by the academic course I followed. Without wanting to depersonalize my default material – the set of values ​​and artistic predilections, I still tend to see myself as the result of very happy encounters between this self and the interactions with the teachers who have guided me throughout my training. During this time, my permeability, most likely from my admiration and compatibility with my teachers, allowed me to assimilate knowledge, notions, and ideas that I later developed. I feel that every assignment, every exercise, and dialogue has shaped, at least a little, the raw material of my style.

The meeting with Professor Traian Ștefan Boicescu at the “Victor Giuleanu” High School of Arts opened the way to the understanding and desire to practice decorative arts. The professor’s polymath and his artistic practice were inspirational, but the challenge he launched was to discover the authenticity of our vision, discouraging the adoption of his imagery and approach or common solutions.

Later, within the Bucharest National University of Arts, the string of at least favorable connections continued through the experience of being a student in the undergraduate and, later, master’s group of Mrs. Dr. Daniela Frumuseanu. Although she was the one who initially introduced me to the traditional techniques and processes of textile arts and design, she later ensured that she was the first supporter in the development of my personal style, giving me full support in experimenting with new, less conforming areas of expression textile tradition.

Certainly, the freedom of expression and creative autonomy I have enjoyed have led me to my current explorations. At the same time, the academic experience was fruitful thanks to the contribution of the professors from the Department of Art History, Artistic Philosophy, and Aesthetics, who organically provided us with theoretical knowledge, as well as the mechanisms of developing the critical sense and the ability to decipher the aesthetic meanings of the work of art.

Livia Greaca, “Micrographs”, artistic installation, Diploma Show, Combinatul Fondului Plastic, Bucharest, 2021

How important is it to you to convey a message through your art?

It is very important. Conveying a message through art is one of the fundamental pillars of my creative practice. In my work, the character of the artistic message can vary from one work to another, depending on the intention that guides each individual artistic endeavor. Sometimes, this artistic expression materializes in vehemently communicated concepts and ideas, while in other cases, the message can be suggestive, subtly insinuated, representing rather an invitation to meditation addressed to the viewer.

Given my training in decorative arts, my appetite for aesthetics plays a significant role in my creations. However, I try to balance the importance given to the sensory aspect, not to make it an end in itself, subordinating it to the content of ideas. In this context, the concrete, tangible work of art, which can evoke moods and emotions in the viewer through its very corporeality, also becomes the physical support for the immaterial and conceptual work.

My sensitivity to the visual attributes of the artwork prompts me to continuously experiment and develop innovative technical solutions, exploring the full potential of formal possibilities of expression. The desire to convey a message through art requires me to push the limits of retinal perception and encourages me to explore meaningful and relevant topics.

Essentially, for me, communicating a message through art fulfills several roles. Art can serve as an alarm signal, as a means of personal expression, of one’s preferences and values, but it can also represent an opportunity for knowledge offered to the public through the prism of interpretation that a work of art can open up. I hope to build bridges between my subject and viewers, inviting them into my creative universe and sharing my experience, but also encouraging them to discover their own meanings. I want to communicate my emotional states and vision as eloquently as possible. Still, I embrace the diversity of perceptions and feel that it enriches the meaning and relevance of my work.

Livia Greaca, “Micrographs”, artistic installation, Diploma Show, Combinatul Fondului Plastic, Bucharest, 2021

What are the stages of your creative process, from the idea or source of inspiration to when you are completely satisfied with the result? Do you prefer spontaneity, or do you put more emphasis on research?

In general, my creative process is quite long and extensive, unfolding methodically through the succession of several stages. Although my approach tends to be research-focused, it is not exempt from the dimension of serendipity, unexpected results, and discoveries. The first step is conceptualizing and documenting the idea – phase proper to the theoretical study and notional excavations. This stage is very important in the creative process because, beyond thoroughly documenting the subject I want to explore, it also allows me to discover new information and make new ramifications and connections that can enrich the initial concept.

The sketching stage of the project seconds this moment – a period in which I like to investigate the creative solutions available with pencil on paper as profoundly as possible. I don’t try to rush the pace of this stage; I experiment until I run out of ideas and find the form of expression most faithful to my mental projections.
Up to this point, the creative process proceeds systematically, according to the ritual. Next comes the stage of presentation, prototyping, and the moment of creative experiments, when I try to bring the mental projection and the one on paper into the matter by using various materials, colors, and techniques capable of expressing the expected visual effects.

Although the experience with the material allows me to preview the results of these artistic processes most of the time, unforeseen scenarios still happen at this stage. Sometimes, I encounter unexpected incompatibilities between materials, dyes, and techniques, which pushes me to find alternatives and maybe even deviate from the original plan. Thus, the methodical is interwoven with spontaneity, a mixture that not infrequently gives even more expressiveness to the original work.

At this point, the idea is documented. The form of the work, materials, and techniques are established so they can move on to the actual production stage. Although the term “production” inspires an emotion of glaciality, this process phase is perhaps the most contemplative and emotionally intense. The mind can rest after the conceptual effort and reconnect with the material. The hands begin to work, and the systematic repetition of each module articulates like a mantra chanted over and over.
Making the modular elements is perhaps the longest work phase. This involves the periodic resumption of a technical process, creating a cadence, which at some point, immerses you in a kind of trance. The work is ready when all the constituent elements are put together, and the object grows slowly, like a living organism, from a cell to a whole.

The artist Livia Greaca in her studio

How much time do you usually spend in the workshop?

The time spent in the workshop varies from one day to another, from one period to another, and is dependent on the context on the grid of other activities waiting to be carried out. The practice in the field of textile arts, in general, but also specifically in the case of my projects, involves a procedural approach that can stretch over several weeks or even months for each work.
Every time I start a new project or a series of works, I am aware that the realization is an extensive ritual that takes time. Often, the time spent in the workshop exceeds eight hours. When I start the creative process, the subjective perception of time changes and 10-12 hours pass unnoticed.

Over the course of several years, I embraced my nocturnal chronotype, taking advantage of the late hours when I felt the return was higher. Recently, however, I adjusted my schedule; I recalibrated to the diurnal system, preferring to work during the hours when I have natural light.
When I’m working towards a fixed-date exhibition or whenever there’s a deadline for a project, the time spent in the studio increases. At the same time, there are periods loaded with different responsibilities and administrative tasks, and then the time allocated to creation decreases.

Although sometimes I have more hours, while some days are more limited, I do my best so that the time spent in the workshop is not missing from my activity for long periods. The workshop is an essential part of my routine, both from the perspective of the actual practice and also psychologically, offering me the opportunity to reconnect with my emotions and inner states.

Once set up in the studio, do you need a certain mood to be able to create, or does inspiration come naturally the moment you start working?

I think the answer directly relates to where I am in the creative process. When I’m going through the early stages of a project, like conceptualizing the work and making the first drafts, I feel much more dependent on my overall mood and those moments of inspiration. In contrast, inspiration is less relevant when my work is technical modular rather than creative.

When I need a boost, I try to invoke that inspiration through the documentation I do beforehand. Visually, I need those few images (usually natural forms) that make me want to explore them in my work. This also applies to theoretical documentation.

Afterward, I function pretty well in this rhythm of starting work – sketching, digging for ideas until I peel away the superficial layers and enter that creative state. Of course, there are also deadlock moments where, even after several attempts, I cannot reach the expected solutions. However, such a day is generally followed by a more prolific one, where things decongest and begin to fall into place.

Last year you participated in the artistic residency Fusion: AIR 2022 – Artistic residencies in scientific research institutes – a project started by the Qolony Association – Colony for Art and Science. Please tell us more about your involvement in this residency. What opportunities led you to join the project, and how would you describe the whole experience?

Fusion: AIR is the first collaborative residency project in Romania, which brings together artists interested in scientific concepts and processes and researchers from research institutes. The project outlines a common meeting space between artists and scientists, develops an infrastructure for transdisciplinary collaborations, and promotes alternative methodologies. Therefore, it is a unique residency project on the Romanian artistic scene.

Themes inspired by fields belonging to science have started to be more and more present in my practice in recent years, although the sci-art dimension is present in my creations more on a conceptual and thematic level through the sources of inspiration approached. Gradually, I discovered an interest in this artistic form of expression, which can not only help popularize science and bring complex concepts to the general public’s attention but also provide a creative perspective on the scientific process itself (a process that can often resemble the creative one).

Thus, my desire to work in this interdisciplinary area could materialize through the Fusion: AIR experience. The residency program allowed us, the four selected artists – Dorin Cucicov, Marina Oprea, Marius Jurca and me – to visit four research institutes, with which we also worked during the residency: the Institute of Space Sciences, the National Institute of Research and Development for Textiles and Leather, the National Research and Development Institute for Physics of Lasers, Plasma and Radiation (INFLPR) and the National Research and Development Institute for Physics of Materials.

Livia Greaca, “Chroma”, artistic installation, MNȚR plus C, Bucharest, 2022

My collaboration with Dr. Elena Badea, a researcher within INCDTP-ICPI, the Advanced Research Group for Cultural Heritage (ARCH Lab) in Bucharest, was extremely fruitful for my practice. Access to the National Research and Development Institute for Textiles and Leather, to the instruments, technology, and research methods used, gave me new perspectives of understanding how materials are processed, how new materials can be created and developed, but also on the specific procedures for the research and restoration of cultural heritage.

The theme addressed by INCDTP focused on the research of pigments – the mechanisms (causes) of colors and the technologies that allow them to be obtained, as well as the information they can provide directly or indirectly. This was the starting point for “Chroma,” the installation I made during the residency in collaboration with Dr. Elena Badea.
The work investigates the perception and symbolism of colors, proposing to research, analyze, and express in terms of contemporary art the process by which science, technology, and art have merged to render tones and shades that have built and populated the universe of visual arts.
The four objects created propose a foray into the world of natural and synthetic pigments, inorganic and organic matter, following the diachronic trajectory of science and technology from the Paleolithic to the contemporary, from black and red iron oxides to the age of polymers and metamaterials.

The experience was complex and very useful. Under the general theme of the edition Unexpected ReSolutions: How the Process Drives the Outcome, the residency allowed for close observation of both the process of forming ideas and putting them into practice. The focus was on the final work and the sequence of all stages, following processes such as iteration, methodological determinism, or serendipity, and how they lead to various solutions and unexpected results.

The final projects were exhibited at MNȚRplusC, under the curatorial concept initiated by Floriama Cândea and Andrei Tudose, together with Mihaela Ghiță, artistic director and initiator of the Fusion project – artistic residencies in research institutes.

Elite Art Gallery

You were invited to participate in numerous group exhibitions organized by important exhibition spaces in Bucharest, including Elite Art Gallery, Galeria Galateca, or MNȚR plus C. At the same time, your works were exhibited at Art Safari Bucharest and the Diploma Festival, organized by The institutes How important are these exhibition events in shaping your artistic career?

I believe that each participation is important, settling into the overall project of the artistic career. All these exhibition experiences are particular, they come with their own opportunities, challenges, and situational contexts which greatly help to develop the skills necessary for organizing exhibitions. I am very grateful for the chance to be part of these projects and exhibition events that I consider useful and essential for my development.

Beyond the skills that an artist acquires from these experiences of participating in and organizing exhibitions, I would mention among the beneficial aspects involved in the promotion that an exhibitor enjoys, both in the physical space through the presence of his works in the gallery and the environment online. Although social media often allows us artists to present our creations through digital accounts and portfolios, I believe that the encounter with the public is most authentic in the exhibition space, where the aesthetic experience is direct and unmediated by screens.

At the same time, along with the dialogue with the public, I found participation in the exhibition events as an opportunity for involvement and belonging to the artistic community and not only, and this aspect cannot be replaced by online activity and exposure.
For example, during these months, September-October, I have the joy of being part of a collaborative project with 31 other artists, architects, urban planners, and horticulturists. This project, entitled “Ecologies of care and care”, is based on interdisciplinary research in contemporary art, architecture, landscaping, and horticulture and will materialize in the form of exhibitions in three Bucharest galleries: Leilei, Mobius, and Strata.
The project is organized by the Nucleu 0000 Association in partnership with the Faculty of Horticulture from Bucharest and the University of Agronomic Sciences and Veterinary Medicine from Bucharest. At the same time, thanks to my previous participation in the Diploma Festival, I have the joy of returning to the Diploma Show project, which celebrates 10 editions of the festival by exhibiting 10 projects that will be brought back to the public between September 7 and October 15.

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