A descendant of painter Gheorghe Tattarescu, on her mother’s side, Micaela Eleutheriade was born on a Sunday in June 1900. She spent her first years of art studies at the School of Belle Arte in Bucharest (founded by Theodor Aman and her grandfather, Gheorghe Tattarescu). Her tutors were Ipolit Strâmbu, Dimitrie Serafim and Cecilia Cuțescu-Stork. She then spent three years in Paris (1924-1927), perfecting her craft at the Ranson Academy, under the guidance of painter Roger Bissière.

Her debut came naturally, positively, without the drama that often times described the biography of so many other artists. She exhibited her first works in Paris, in 1926, at the same time taking part in various events in Romania; for example, The Bucharest Official Salon exhibited her “Still Life with a Black Hat” – instantly bought by K.H. Zambaccian. The event is quite meaningful, proving the flair of the renowned collector, as well as the young artist’s talent, a talent that was to assert itself in a constant, smooth and durable ascent throughout a well reputed career. Her personal exhibitions (first one in 1936) earned positive comments from its debut and, among others, art historians note the praising review of Nicolae Tonitza – this review somehow influenced the way the artist was perceived by the audience, who would have welcomed her nevertheless, given the accessibility of her works. Looking back, generally, Ion Frunzetti described the relationship between Micaela Eleutheriade and her public as “a great requited love”; “Loved by the public, the artist loved the public as well, the familiar one from the present which she knew, and the unfamiliar one from the future, because she loves people” (I. Frunzetti).

The elegance of Micaela Eleutheriade’s paintings dominates without claiming special efforts, due to her simple but intelligent and elaborate approach. The modernity of her artworks resides in a combination of elements – perspective, composition, accents of line, adorning background designs, refined color pallet – which naturally signal the trends of the time, without the explicit rigour of a strict stylistic program.

From the beginning, experts have noticed Micaela Eleutheriade’s preference for still natures, but also for landscapes, interior scenes, everyday vedutas, all of these synthetizing reality “as a source of art and a contact point between the artist and herself” (Ion Frunzetti). “Herein is a poetry of everyday life, understood from inside and not merely depictive, touristic” – said Ion Frunzetti – without “… the superficial and alien feeling of a simple visitor”.

The remarkable stylistic coherence of this artist comes from the authentic way in which she relates intellectually but also emotionally with the world around, inconspicuously – but the more so convincingly – adapting the West’s lessons (with its famous paradigms) at her own way of understanding atmospheres, plastic effects, poetic suggestions, spiritual conjunctures. The painter had the talent (and wisdom) to create, beyond fashion and trends, what Dan Grigorescu synthetized as a “calm and cordial universe”.

Micaela Eleutheriade develops what one might call, in her special case, a sentimental perspective on places and scene designs that carry, each time, a subtle but noticeable emotional investment determined by the suggestion of a human presence even where the human figure per-se is missing.  The visual sequences – pedantically cut-out of free but never accidental compositions, – are focused on certain elements selected for their power of suggestion, opening towards psychological coordinates common to both the author and to the viewer, thus creating an empathic circuit without many obstacles. “The link with postimpressionism (…) is seen in the achievement of fluency and readability of the image’s narrative structure. A narrative taken out of incidence and subjected to an interior time with one dimension – the present” – is written in the Encyclopedia of Romanian Contemporary Artists. “After taking contact with the Parisian artistic scene and with its atmosphere impregnated by the impressionist syncretism of the time, the young artist clarified her aesthetic options. The music of Claude Debussy led to a synesthetic aesthetic experience. (…) The music of Eric Satie or Marcel Ravel is also important in the artist’s creative process.” (www.eleutheriade.obi.ro). Some have detected in her compositions similarities with Raoul Dufy, Albert Marquet, and even Herni Matisse. Strongly rooted in modernism, careful about the Parisian reality of her time, Micaela Eleutheriade yet avoided the too daring plastic adventures, so that parallels with the above artists can be limited to line quality and chromatic frankness, judgements on her achievements being related no to other people investigations, but to the author’s intentions to avoid, elegantly and moderately, extravagances that wouldn’t have served her creative intentions.

Whatever the stylistic relationships that the more or less trained eye can detect in colors, contours or even the subjects of her works, Micaela Eleutheriade is indebted mainly to her own creative lucidity that continues to send its message of balance between the data of the outside world and the sovereignty of subjective search for purpose, merging them in a sort of personal painterly “existentialism”, proved through her relationship with others – with the subjectivities that they address and that can discover interesting universes in her samples of perception.

The artworks reunited in the present exhibition have been, without exception, restored in the Bucharest Municipality Museum’s own specialized laboratory.

Liana Ivan-Ghilia