He started painting aged 5, when a lady family friend noticed he had a talent for drawing and bought him his first set of watercolours. The first time he did a drawing, it was a helicopter, based on an image he saw in a book…
When you talk to Andrei, time flies. His message is that combination of unusual, mystery and enthusiasm, all sketched out in a coherent artistic design. He is a little over 20 years of age, and has the wisdom of an adult who has experienced life. When he talks, you notice he looks into the eyes of his interviewer as if confessing that he has “read” the other. He has a proper understanding of the messages of the subconscious; and he says about himself that he is an instinctive individual.
Andrei Voica is a painter, photographer and a student of Public Relations at one of the most prestigious universities in the United Kingdom – the University of Westminster in London. He is building slowly, but surely, an artistic mini-universe which he has also started to imagine as a business. I entered his world so that we can see what it looks like through the lens of the photo camera, through the strokes of the paint brush, and through his personal brand.
His art project is called Art Prime Gallery, a contemporary art gallery promoting young talents, he says; a sort of “giving back” to his origins. For our partner in dialogue, painting represents an experiment. “Sometimes in life, you have the impression that you cannot express yourself sufficiently through words. Painting is like a platform, a method of communicating specific ideas. Here you can become whoever you want to be without encountering any barriers. Within the artistic act I see myself in the role of a creator, I can have total influence over the medium in which I am building,” Andrei tells us.
He remembers with pleasure the painting teacher, Vladimir Us, who made him develop a new vision of art by encouraging him to free himself of stereotypes. “We are set with many frames of reference according to which we conduct ourselves automatically, whereas, in fact, we have to have the freedom to express ourselves as we desire. Man is like an onion, he has many layers. These layers are the filters through which we see the world. But these filters are, mostly, imposed by others. The moment you have the courage to free yourself from these filters, you manage to see the world just as you truly see it, through your own personal filter. I respect concrete painting, realist painting. Abstract painting is, however, connected to the subconscious – an abstract image transmits emotions. It is clear that realist painting can also transmit emotions, but in abstract painting you are the one who has to do the building-up. I rely a lot therefore, on subconscious reactions.”
A routine symbol of his artistic message is the eye. The element that identifies him is light, which he sees as an energy, and his paintings are metaphorical attempts to transmit this energy. His favourite painting is one he hasn’t yet completed. He dreams of an oeuvre that would be valued at millions of dollars, and he considers that it is the artist’s reputation which brings that value.
What elements determine the estimation of a price with many zeros for a painting?
Reputation. Everything has to do with reputation and history. Reputation is built through PR. There are works whose value is not perceived directly. And artistic value is a very relative thing. It is enough for somebody who can make an impact in society to say something aloud, and it will suddenly become mass culture. Everybody knows Mona Lisa. Is it the most super painting of all times? Maybe yes, maybe no. But it has been very well promoted, the painter had a story. Everything is connected to the painter’s reputation.
How does an artist get to be a role model? What is it that can make him a genius?
Genius is also something relative. In a contemporary context, the brand element matters very much. It is an image exercise, an image strategy. There are artists who invest a lot in unconventional promotional campaigns, or at times it suffices to make just one painting that can awake a certain reaction in the public, and it is that moment when you become famous. This situation applies to the present, but in the past it was only those artists who had the opportunity to be recommended by the noble and royal houses for which they worked, who managed to become great painters. Of course, we are talking about the past when painters were considered to be more like trade painters, building images based on a given reality – portraits of the upper classes, scenes inspired by religion – it is known that the Catholic Church was one of the biggest sponsors. Ideas are not new, they are not unique. Many ideas are alike, but they are put into practice in different ways, with the help of each person’s perception of the world. Frequently, when you set out to create a new painting you realise there is somebody else who has the same concept. It is pretty strange, but that idea will never be identical, because it is transposed through your own eyes and vision.
A canvas is a living organism – it interacts with the viewer and transmits a message. The eye represents a connection to the public. Sometimes the painting will be interpreted as a decorative element. I wanted to go beyond this limit, when the painting would look at the public, and the canvas would have a certain interaction. Each painting is a completed thought, and this is a part of it.
How much of a creative act is a scenario, and how much of it is instinct?
30% is scenario, and 70% is instinct. The moment you are rigidly following a certain scenario, you are limiting your own personal interpretation. I follow my instinct to the maximum, I do not censor anything. It is important to give free rein to your subconscious because profound ideas are surging from it.
How proud are you, how much vanity is there in your painting?
The majority of painters have a very strong ego. Why? Because this is what makes them unique. I consider this is what sets them free. Painting is a means of expression. You cannot manifest your ego in daily life because you risk hurting some people, but painting is a space where nobody censors you. It is an open space, where you can make real discoveries about a person through the art he is making.
The project appeared in 2010. This gallery represents a visual expression, a combination between artistic freedom and financial success. At the moment, the gallery is focused only on the works which I make, but I see it in an international context. I want to help young artists to fulfil their dream of getting somewhere. The gallery will not be dedicated exclusively to painters from Romania, but I wish for a great part of the artists to be Romanians. Art Prime Gallery proposes to offer to art consumers a reasonable space for the acquisition of original works.
Andrei is also the co-founder, together with other colleagues from the University of Westminster, of the project-platform Study PR, which aims to put useful materials and interviews about how to build a career in PR at the disposal of all interested in this field. He talks with great pleasure about the college where he studies – he says it is a “college of life”. “Whether you are active or not in the field of public relations after you finish studying, does not have an immediate importance. The idea is to manage to learn some fundamental things at the level of communication and inter-relating with the public, but especially about personal branding. You learn all the steps, from how to behave, how to talk to officials over the telephone, how to do networking, how to promote a concept, an idea. These are essential matters nowadays, which are very important to know, whatever you are – an artist, a business man, or politician.”
Text: ALINA DAVID
Published in ROMANIA IN CONTACT Magazine, 2013, End of May issue