Self-Portrait | 2003 | Bronze, 21 x 25 cm
I was born in the winter of 1954, in the city of Cluj, at the foot of the Feleac hill. My father was a student in Fine Arts and my mother was a dancer.
I crawled my way through a German-language secondary school. In 1973 I graduated from high school and in the same summer I was accepted to the Faculty of Decorative Arts. Then, flanked by students in theology, physics and medicine I served my compulsory military service, which we managed to survive despite the oppressive stench of cabbage soup and endless marching and parade drills through the forests and muddy fields in a grey Romanian region.
Starting in 1974, I studied with Margareta Nemes and with the sculptors Mircea Spataru and Egon Marc Löwit at the ”Ion Andreescu“ Fine Arts Institute, from where I graduated in 1978. While still a student in the last semester, I won the competition organized by the Union of Romanian Artists for the erection of a stone monument in memory of the peasants shot by the Honvéd troops in the city of Alesd, in 1904. Due to the procrastination and bureaucratic inertia of the system, I managed to finish it in 1987.
I was distributed to work as a teacher at the Popular School of Art in Oradea, where I taught sculpture and world art history.
In the general gaiety of a distributed generation I was totally blind to the food ration cards, the cold, the darkness and even the mass idiotization. Cut off from the Romanian reality, I lived in my dream world of art, which itself was slowly but surely getting smothered under the blanket of censorship.
The international prizes that had been awarded to me by His Holiness Pope John Paul II at the Bronze Biennial dedicated to Dante Alighieri`s Divine Comedy in Ravenna, Italy, in 1979 and 1981, brought me a gratifying reputation in Italy and the Veneto region, where I met and built long lasting friendships with artists and art critics and which offered me the oxygen balloon to survive in the immense and gloomy Communist Golden Age …
Adhaesit pavimento anima mea | 1981 | Bronze, 68 x 38 cm
Between 1975 and 1989 I exhibited in one-man shows or with other artists like the painter Miron Duca at the Institute of Medicine and Pharmacy`s Gallery in Cluj, with Elena Kruch at the Artists’ Union Gallery in Oradea and at the “Kursaal” Gallery in Abano Terme, Italy, with Guido Dragani and Giuseppe Biasio at «Galeria Arawak» in Santo Domingo, Dominican Republic, with the graphic artist and painter Roman Mottl in Debrecen, Hungary.
I was (and still am) waiting patiently to be acknowledged and crowned with the laurels of art (these thoughts have always reminded me of Dante Alighieri, who also craved the adulation of the Florentines who had exiled him).
In 1988 I made 14 bas-reliefs with scenes from the Way of the Cross (Via Crucis) and executed the projects for the main portal of the Parish of Madonna Pellegrina in Padua. I truly believed in the Holy Trinity and in St. Anthony and relived with piety every scene I was working on, totally lost in ecstasy, feeling the breath of Veronica or Simon of Cyrene and haunted at night by quarrels with centurions, robbers, or even Pontius Pilate.
In 1990 I was commissioned to craft the medals for the 9th edition of the Dantesca Sculpture Biennial in Ravenna and I organized the stand decoration with my graphic works for the CeBit International Trade Fair in Hannover, Germany, for the Mannesman-Tally company. In the same year I began my teaching career as a lecturer at the “Ion Andreescu” Academy of Visual Arts in Cluj, Department of Sculpture.
Dante Medal | 1990 | Bronze, ⌀ 7 cm
1991 was the year when, together with the Paduan painter A. Zago, I exhibited tapestries and drawings in Venice, at the invitation of the Romanian Institute for Culture and Humanistic Research.
On the recommendation of the Paduan art critic Prof. Giorgio Segato, I designed and carved the Mensa Eucaristica (the altar table) and the pulpit for the New Parish Church in Nanto-Vicenza, Italy, in golden yellow stone quarried in Colli Berici for centuries and chiseled for the same church by Donatello’s pupils.
In the studio located in Oradea, at No. 5 on the former Portile de Fier street, I modeled the bust of Octavian Goga for the High School in Marghita (Bihor county) and executed commemorative bas-reliefs with the portraits of Ady Endre (Oradea), Gheorghe I. Bratianu (Cluj), Aurel Lazar (Oradea) and Dr. Mircea Pop (Marghita). I was commissioned to design medals of various Romanian cultural personalities, which were struck at the Romanian State Mint.
For a short time I worked as a curator at the “Tarii Crisurilor Museum”, an idyllic baroque place where the long hours of idleness lulled us to sweet slumbers between dusty rugs and fauvist-looking peasant skirts.
After about six years spent in the newly established (albeit original) Romanian democratic society, I traded my Romania for a new Heimat place on the river Havel, close to Sanssouci and the Deutscher Bundestag, scuttling off with bag and baggage, holding on to nothing but a handful of dreams.
Here in Brandenburg an der Havel I came to know the new reality and what was left of the glorious Volga Germans, themselves also repatriated with a vengeance, all soaked in samagon and cucumber juice. I immersed myself in art and exhibitions in Rathenow (1997), or at Peter Lenz’s Gallery. The initial fumbles and stumbles in the disciplined world were soon ironed out and my life slowly settled into a proletarian routine, with me keeping my mouth shut and my head down but showering dandruff over the shoulders of the blue proletarian uniform. Tactfully and delicately anchored down by a wife and kid while seriously missing my old friends at home, I managed to survive and even to achieve my own German dream.
It is also here that I came to discover the true virtues of bronze, of wax modeling and of the modern and refined techniques of turning every feeling, wish or artistic object into the immortal endurance of molten metal. Somewhere in southern Germany, within equal distances from the great European cultural cities, I started building and unveiling monuments.
Integrated but not assimilated and filled with chutzpah, awfully proud of my conational Swabs from Banat, Noble Prize holders Herta Müller and Stefan Hell from Santana, I keep struggling fiercely on a battlefield that has already been long invaded and robbed of all the chunks of art.
Bronze installation „Global Feet” in front of the Mercedes-Benz Arena in Stuttgart, 2006
I took my sculptures to Kaiserslautern to exhibit them, and the beginning of the new century found me transporting my horses, rhinoceroses and women carved in bronze plates all around the art fairs in Innsbruck and Schwäbisch Gmünd. But throughout this entire time, gates have remained my artistic weakness, be they church gates or football gates (sic) (please admire my steel and bronze installation erected in front of the Mercedes-Benz Football Arena in Stuttgart, entitled “Global Feet”).
Bronze sculpture „Nike“ in „Prediger“, Schwäbisch-Gmünd, 2014
In the autumn of 2000, I rebuilt and remodeled, after engravings of the 19th century, the artesian fountains that stand in front of the new building of the ”Eberhard Karls’ University“ in Tübingen, melted by the Nazis in the 1940s. For the Stuttgart Television Tower I made the portrait of Fritz Leonhardt, the engineer of genius who had designed and built that masterpiece of engineering.
I am a member of the Artists’ Unions of Romania and Germany and by the nature of my commitment I pay my dues for my younger, bohemian years at the biggest Art Foundry in Germany, alongside a multicultural creative team. Here I am in permanent contact with many artists and their delicate sculptures or monumental works.
2010 brought me professional gratification with the exhibition in which I presented 100 works conceived during my life in Germany, including sculptures, bas-reliefs and acrylic drawings on canvas and paper. The art gallery of Gaildorf Castle (Baden-Württemberg) offered me its warm hospitality for the occasion.
I diligently illustrated and drew vignettes for the cultural magazines Familia from Oradea and Tribuna from Cluj, and I was fortunate to hang around many literary and artistic personalities of late 20th century Transylvania, among whom the sculptor Romul Ladea, the painter and stage designer Sever Frentiu, Corneliu Brudascu, Mircea Spataru, Alfred Grieb, Negoita Irimie and last, but not least, my father, Nicolae Kruch, sculptor.
In Oradea, many poets and writers of the time like Viorel Horj, Teodor Crisan, Radu Enescu and Alexandru Andritoiu were regular guests of our house and studio. I feel fortunate and honored to have many of them as my true friends, locked deep in my soul …
To avoid falling into the banality of an autobiography worthy of the staff department archives, I promise to soon resume this jumble of personal notes with others that I intentionally or unintentionally left out, irrelevant though they are in a life that flows in parallel to nowhere.