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FotoFest 2010: Ion Zupcu’s Works on Paper

Romanian-born Ion Zupcu is playfully methodical when it comes to making art. The artist draws and sketches almost daily in his studio in Hope Junction, NY, where he maps out ideas for three-dimensional experiments with the camera.

A Modernist aesthetic has resonated throughout Zupcu’s art since he began making it in the 1980s. Initially influenced by the Constructivists’ use of aerial perspectives and the bold lines of Revolutionary art from the Stalinist Era, Zupcu later studied delicate shapes created and photographed by fellow Romanian Constantin Brâncuşi. Upon his immigration to the United States in 1991, the scope of Zupcu’s inspiration expanded to include Minimalism. Yet, the resounding influence in his work is life experience, including discoveries with his daughter, Christina. Each creation marks time passing; with minor exception, the titles of his newer images are the dates they are made.


Following Zupcu’s relocation to the U.S., he used his square medium-format camera to develop several distinct bodies of black and white photographs about the physicality of objects. His still-lifes of bottles, fabric, and eggs gently examine the objects’ sculptural forms in honest relation to one another, while challenging the boundaries set by the confines of the image plane. In an earlier series entitled Works on Paper, Zupcu meticulously sculpted paper into boxes, squares and curvilinear forms, and photographed his subjects from above. 


In the work selected for the FOTOFEST2010 Discoveries show, Zupcu responds to his drawings of the cube and plays more intensely with the perception of scale and the illusion of depth. Entitled Painted Cubes, this new work pushes the sculpted three-dimensional forms into varying, often layered, arrangements. Deceivingly small in scale, the cubes are painted repeatedly with thick brushstrokes, bringing forth their sculptural qualities and heightening their depth when introduced to soft natural lighting in Zupcu’s studio. In some works, the cubes are reduced to mere lines on the photographic page. One image, Homage to Albers (2009), exercises a pictorial formula popularized by the twentieth-century Modernist pioneer, whose paintings Homages to the Square (1950-1976) were an unmitigated faithfulness to a proportional ratio. Other images play with our sense of gravity, creating what seem to be impossible realities achieved through multiple exposures.




In "Discoveries at the Meeting Place", Wendy Watriss (ed) 2010. FotoFest 2010. Amsterdam: Schilt Publishing. 2, 34-5.


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