After a one and a half hours flight with the amazing views of snowy mountains, we have finally arrived at Cluj. A very small airport has welcomed us that we didn’t expect. We quickly passed from passport control, took our luggage and met our first Romanian contact, artist Florin Ştefan who is a friend of our professor Michel Bourse. While we were driving with a taxi to our hotel, we had our first impressions about Cluj.
The effects of communism can be clearly seen in urban space. Buildings are quite neglected and damaged. This impression started to change as we were getting close to the city center. The atmosphere was more classical Central European and historical. So we felt a strong distance between urban zone and city center. There were flags nearly everywhere because of their national holiday which was 2 days ago on December 1st. Following our trip, we arrived to our hotel, left our luggage and went out for lunch.
We had our lunch in the city center with Mr. Florin Ştefan and another of his colleagues from the Faculty of Fine Arts, a renowned painter of Romania whom we will focus on in our upcoming entries. Following the lunch, we had a small sightseeing. We walked around the square, had a look at fine arts museum, and discovered the streets of Cluj. We saw the oldest house of the city and a street vendor lady informed us about the history of this house, which was very interesting. The house was built in the 15th century, in gothic style as a small guesthouse. It had very interesting ties to the Hungarian Royalty and now it’s home to a visual art institute. We continued to walk around the streets, which were covered with Christmas lights.
As it was the National Holiday of Romania when we arrived in Cluj, we saw Romanian flags all around the city. The day is also called Great Union Day or Unification Day. Romanians celebrate that day on 1st of December, so we missed the celebrations with 2 days but we saw the trace of splendid celebration on the main square and the streets.
Commemorates the Declaration of Alba Iulia, with which the assembly of delegates Romanians held in Alba Iulia declared the union of Transylvania with Romania in 1918.This festival was established in 1989 after the Revolution to commemorate the unification with Transylvania but also with the provinces of Bessarabia and Bukovina with the Kingdom of Romania in 1918.
At the end of this little trip we met with Mr. Ştefan again to have a look at his workshop where he paints his pictures. He showed us his works and told their stories. He mentioned the way he works. It was a unique experience thanks to his kindness and enthusiasm and we had a very valuable insight to the world of a renowned artist. He told about what he focuses on, which methods he uses to convey his message and how he finds his subjects in his daily life. He had exhibitions in many European countries and he has created very innovative and interesting projects during his long and fruitful career. He was very kind to thoroughly guide us through all the phases he goes through in the process of creating a piece of art and therefore we had an incredible experience with the dust of our feet in the very first day. We will cover his art with more details in our following entries.
Following this unexpected workshop, we went for a dinner together. He took us to a restaurant where he always goes. We had our dinner while talking about art, Romania, and plans about our further meetings which will help us with the research. At the end of the day we returned to our hotel and started to work on our website. We were very tired but satisfied with this long day and also excited about our next meetings.