Romania


Intr-unul din locurile cel mai putin verosimile se afla una dintre cele mai neobisnuite galerii de arta pe care le-am vizitat. Kibbutzul Beeri este situat in sudul Israelului, nu departe de Netivot si Shderot, langa fasia Gaza, zona care se afla in stiri mai mult cand sunt violente, atacuri cu rachete, actiuni ale armatei israeliene in Gaza. Este si o zona de agricultura intensiva, si care la acest sfarsit de iarna israeliana arata verde si inflorit, relativ desigur la peisajul si clima aride din cea mai mare parte a anului.

 

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Cateva indicatoare destul de modeste dar totusi vizibile te ghideaza spre casa care nu arata altfel decat multe dintre casele din jur si care se deosebeste doar prin firma – Galeria Beeri. Eu nu o cunosteam, dar acum stiu – galeria aceasta exista din 1986 si pana astazi au fost organizate aici peste 300 de expozitii – www.gallerybeeri.co.il. Acum Galeria Beeri este prima gazda israeliana a expoitiei Spiritul Sapantei rezultate din colaborarea dintre artisti israelieni si romani, expozitie realizata cu sprijinul ICR Tel Aviv.

 

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Banuiesc ca majoritatea cititorilor stiu multe despre Maramures si despre Sapanta, acest loc special celbru prin al sau Cimitir Vesel. Ceea ce probabil mai putini stiu si eu in orice caz nu cunosteam aceasta istorie este ca pana la al doilea razboi mondial peste un sfert din populatia satului era evreiasca (sursa - http://02varvara.wordpress.com/2010/07/06/sapanta-in-the-carpathians-a-merry-cemetery-and-a-peri-monastery/). O comunitate ca mii de alte comunitati din estul Europei distrusa de Holocaust. Majoritatea evreilor Sapantei au fost deportati in 1944 de jandarmii unguri colaboratori ai ocupantilor germani, putini s-au intors de la Auschwitz si cei intorsi nu au mai ramas in sat. Recomand oricui vine sa viziteze expozitia sa asculte video-ul cu Poemul lui Vasile - o lucrare impresionanta a unui poet popular local, care in stilul specific poeziei populare romanesti descrie istoria evreilor din Sapanta.

 

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Spiritul Sapantei este rezultatul muncii comune a doi artisti israelieni si a unui artist local roman, care au lucrat impreuna in sat in vara lui 2012. Expozitia a fost prima data deschisa in cladirea sinagogii din Bistrita. Mai sus ii puteti vedea pe cei doi artisti israelieni (Nora Stanciu si Haim Maor) reprezentati in stilul portretelor de Sapanta de catre artistul roman Dumitru Pop Tincu.

 

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Ce diferit si ce special arata scrisul in ebraica tesut pe stergarele specifice Maramuresului! Oare evreii Sapantei de acum un secol vor fi avut si folosit stergare asemanatoare?

 

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Portretele lui Dumitru Pop Tincu creaza intr-un fel modelul de referinta al expozitiei. Artistul continua traditia portretisticii din faimosul Cimitir vesel cu subiecte inspirate printre altele din ciclurile vietii si din momentele esentiale care marcheaza viata oamenilor din sat.

 

 

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Haim Manor da replica artistului roman prin picturi pe lemn, care redau in acelasi stil pseudo-naiv persoane si personaje din lumea satului.

 

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Lucrarile Norei Stanciu sunt mai mari in dimensiuni si mai elaborate. Una dintre ele suprapune motivul pictural cu cel al broderiilor, alta arta-mestesug specifica zonei. A doua preia motivele ale culturii ‘elevate’ intr-o inramare specifica artei populare.

Expozitia este deschisa la Beeri pana la mijlocul lui martie, dupa cate am inteles in continuuare va fi prezentata si in alte locuri in Israel si o recomand celor interesati – si ca valoare documentara, si emotionala, dar si pentru o intalnire mai putin obisnuita intre spatii culturale indepartate geografic, dar cu multe apropieri culturale.

 

 

 

I realize that the cycle of blog entries about the trip to Romania last year advances too slowly. There are a few reasons and a few excuses that I will not list here, but it may be a good outcome as well. As the memories sediment and the emotions I felt during that trip get some rest, I can better structure the story of this travel which was from many points of view different from any other trip I took recently. Here is the second stop we made in the second day of the trip, at the beautiful and so special monastery of Agapia.

 

The name of the monastery and of the neighboring village comes from the name of the hermit Agapie who according to the tradition built a wooden church in the second half of the 14th century in a place located about 2 kilometers from the current location. As the church was destroyed by a snow avalanche on a Easter Day, it was rebuilt close to the current place, and later in the 15th century a monks monastery was built around. Several kings of Moldavia donated lands and contributed to the building of the monastery and churches inside – Petru Rares, Alexandru and Bogdan Lapusneanu, Vasile Lupu, Petru Schiopu (the Lame). By the end of the 18th century the monastery is turned to the nuns, but it is almost completely destroyed by fire during the events of the Greek revolt and Russian occupation that followed.

 

It is after the destruction in 1821 that the monastery was rebuilt and took its present form. Painted in sparkling white the church of the monastery is not big in dimensions, but strong and elegant. The building is built on the foundation of stone, with thick impressive walls. The side wings, a new porch and the old narthex were added in 1858-1862. The roof is simple with a low inclination, pierced above the nave by a slender tower with octagonal base.

source http://www.viziteazaneamt.ro/2010/08/opera-lui-nicolae-grigorescu-la-manastirea-agapia/

 

The most impressive art elements in the monastery are the paintings of Nicolae Grigorescu, one of the most important names in the history of Romanian art, founder of the Romanian school of painting. Grigorescu was only 20 when he received this work, and between 1859 and 1861 painted the walls of the church leaving here an important mark for his artistic career, as well as for the whole Romanian church painting and art in general.

 

Iisus rugându-se în grădina Ghetsimani - source http://ro.wikipedia.org/wiki/M%C4%83n%C4%83stirea_Agapia

 

Inspiring himself from works of the great masters of the Renaissance, the artist added his own touch. As many other great artists dealing with Bible subject (El Greco comes the first to my mind) he took as models for the characters of the Gospels from the people he met around – nuns, monks, peasants. He added his personal touch as well as sensitivity and devotion for the subjects he dealt with.

 

source http://cadelnita.blogspot.com/2010/05/agapia-nicolae-grigorescu.html

 

The remarkable composition and dramatic power of telling the story are impressive in many of the more complex paintings.

 

Sfanta Treime - source http://ro.wikipedia.org/wiki/Fi%C8%99ier:Biserica_Agapia_-_SfTreime.JPG

 

Also exceptional are the way Grigorescu uses the architectonic details, paints every available space and corner and succeeds to provide to the ensemble a sense of complex beauty and monumental despite the relatively small dimensions of the church. Immediately after finishing the work at Agapia, Nicolae Grigorescu travelled to Paris, He studied at Ecole des Beaux-Arts, had Renoir as a colleague and Miller, Corot and Courbet as acquaintances, associating himself to the school of Barbizon and later to Impressionism. Back in Romania he painted on the front of the Romanian Independence War in 1877 and became the most important founding figure in the history of Romanian painting.

 

Back to the courtyard we could admire the museum of the monastery (with more works of the young Grigorescu) and the lodgement of the nuns, some available to visitors guests of the monastery. Church economy developed around the monastery, many of the nuns working on gardening and farming around – a tradition that also continues an older way of life and living.

 

However newer ways of communication are also present – as you can see in the photo of this nun talking on a mobile phone.

 

Era in ultima mea vacanta mare de licean, intre clasa a 11-a si a 12-a.In sala de sport de la subsolul liceului Sfantul Sava reusisesm sa convingem directiunea liceului sa permita organizarea unei discoteci, folosind faptul ca baiatul directoarei liceului era coleg cu noi de clasa. Cel mai bun prieten al meu era DJ-ul principal si animatorul serilor, se ocupa serios de muzica si impreuna cu el exploram spatiul liber al muzicii rock al carui principal canal de distribuire in Romania erau emisiunile ‘Metronom’ ale lui Cornel Chiriac la Radio Europa Libera. Pe cai necai facea rost de discurile cu muzica auzita la Europa Libera, o copia pe benzi de magnetofon si o prezenta in discoteca liceului. Curaj? Inconstienta? In primul rand dragoste de muzica si de libertate.

 

sursa - http://ro.wikipedia.org/wiki/Tezele_din_iulie

 

Data era 7 iulie 1971 – o miercuri. Ne adunasem ca de obicei ceva mai devreme, noi organizatorii, dar sala de sport era incuiata. Nu intelegeam dece, cand unul dintre noi veni cu vestea – ‘Tovarasul a tinut ieri o cuvantare, ceva cu educatia politica’. ‘Tovarasul’ era desigur Ceausescu, si noi, ignoranti in ale propagandei nu citisem ziarele, oricum nu cuvantarile ne interesau pe noi. Aceea era insa o cuvantare care avea sa ne influenteze intreaga viata, sau cel putin multi dintre anii care au urmat. In cele din urma a aparut profesorul de sport, se consultase cred cu directoarea si primise aprobarea sa deschida sala de sport si sa ne lase sa desfasuram seara de discoteca. Incepusem sa intelegem si noi ca este vorba despre ultima. Pentru un timp cel putin. Pentru vreo 19 ani.

Inspirate de o vizita facuta de Ceausescu in China comunista si Coreea de Nord cu cateva saptamani inainte, tezele din iulie nu au fost insa o generatie spontanee ci s-au ivit ca o reactie a conceptiilor staliniste si a birocratiei ideologice care dominasera viata romaneasca in anii 50 si inceputul anilor 60 pentru a fi puse in umbra de o scurta perioada de relativ ‘dezghet’ ideologic, de normalizare controlata a vietii publice si culturale si de recuperare a valorilor reale in continuitate cu cele ale culturii romanesti dinainte de dictaturile fascista si comunista. Nu era vorba despre o intoarcere la democratie, controlul partidului comunist unic era complet si nici macar nu a existat in Romania o ‘primavara’ ca cea cehoslovaca din 1968, dar totusi cenzura se mai relaxase, filme de divertisment se aduceau din toata lumea, se traduceau carti, si chiar si muzica straina isi mai facea loc – cu greu si cu multe limite si interziceri – la radio si in topurile unor reviste cum era ‘Saptamana’. Peste noapte majoritatea acestora au fost pur si simplu anulate. In zilele care au urmat programele de televiziune au fost restructurate, cinematografele au scos majoritatea filmelor straine cu continut ‘necorespunzator’, componenta redactiilor revistelor literare a fost schimbata si continutul acestora aliniat din nou cu productele realismului socialist, muzica pop si rock a disparut aproape cu totul de la radio si din presa.

 

sursa http://www.frontpress.ro/?p=10819

 

Putini au fost intelectualii care au incercat sa reziste acestor tendinte si ei au fost redusi imediat la tacere si trecuti la index, cartile lor nu au mai fost publicate, piesele si filmele lor nu au mai fost reprezentate sau pur si simplu nu au mai fost facute. In anii care au urmat au luat calea exilului scriitori si regizori de film si de teatru de prima mana, iar cei care au ramas in Romania s-au luptat cu cenzura si au fost obligati la compromisuri uriase pentru ca cartile, filmele sau pieselor lor de teatru sa ajunga, chiar si in forma ciuntita la public. Locul artei si culturii autentice a fost luat de manifestari grandioase, nationalist-patriotarde cum erau festivalurile ‘Cantarea Romaniei’ croite dupa modelele de la Phenian si de un faraonic cult al personalitatii intretinut de politrucii regimului impreuna cu cativa poeti si artisti plastici colaborationisti. In anii 80, in penuria economica creata de constructiile megalomanice din Capitala si de ambitia absurda a lui Ceausescu de a sterge datoria externa a Romaniei programele de televiziune s-au redus la doua ore de emisie pe zi pe un singur canal si ziarele la patru pagini umplute aproape exclusiv de propaganda.

Tezele din iulie au esuat, dar au trecut mai mult de 18 ani durerosi pentru cei ramasi in Romania pana la prabusirea sistemului comunist si intoarcerea la normalitate. Consider ca au esuat pentru ca evenimentele din decembrie 1989, oricum le-am caracteriza au dus in cateva zile la o completa liberalizare a presei, si la restabilirea instantanee a contactului direct intre scriitorii, artistii, oamenii de cultura romani si publicul lor. Paranteza neagra deschisa in iulie 1971 s-a inchis. Ea insa a lasat cicatrici si in modul de gandire, si in educatia estetica si culturala al multor generatii, si in suferintele creatorilor si consumatorilor de cultura si in miile de creatii care ar fi putut fi si nu au vazut lumina tiparului, a scenei, a ecranului, a sevaletului. Pentru multi dintre cei care eram atunci in plina formare intelectuala, abia iesiti din adolescenta, iulie 1971 a insemnat o trezire la realitatea a ceea ce este cu adevarat comunismul, stergerea definitiva a oricarei iluzii in ceea ce priveste aceasta ideologie si acest sistem politic – o lectie dura de maturizare, pentru care insa putem astazi retrospectiv sa-i multumim partidului.

As we were drawing near to our first and maybe most important stop for me in this trip the weather started to become gray and rainy. We felt the change in landscape as soon as we entered the judetz (county) of Neamtz. Hills took the place of the dusty landscape that we crossed for about 300 kilometers. Unfortunately the sun chose to hide and clouds were quite low. When we entered the city of Piatra Neamtz, the place were the Romascanu family lived for more than one hundred years, since the mid of the 19th century, the three hills surrounding the city were hidden by clouds.

on the slope of the hill

Frankly speaking I was not sure at all that we will find the place I was looking for. We were looking for the house of my grandparents, the house where my father and my aunt lived as children, the place where I spent every summer vacation until the age of 14, after which my grandparents left the city and moved to Bucharest, to live close to my father. As we where getting closer I was thinking that the chances to find the house still standing were low, as all the area was full of new condos buildings and villas. And then the GPS told us ‘you have reached your destination’ and the house was there! Everything around was new on that side of the street, all but my grandparents house!

grandparents David and Deborah at their wedding - 1920

I had not seen the place for more than 30 years. I had returned to Piatra Neamtz only once since my grandpa and grandma left the city, and this must have been around 1980. Many people describe their experience when getting back to places that were very familiar when they where children in a change of dimensions, a disappointing dwarfing in many cases. That was not at all my impression. The house is imposing, it was renovated and it is well maintained by the people who own it today. It was a well built structure, raised in the 1920s when my grandfather was a wealthy merchant. He owned all the land up to the slopes at the mid of the Cozia hill, where he was growing grapes, apples and prunes. The Communists confiscated all the property excepting the house at the street, and even that house he was obliged to share with another three families. My grandfather worked as an accountant at a local paper factory in order to sustain the house.

35, Petru Rares street

The address was 35, the Petru Rares street. Actually during the Communist rule the name of street was changed to Lenin street (Lenin was the leader of the Bolshevik revolution in Russia), but I knew the old name of the street and guessed correctly that at the dawn after the Communist night the street gained back the name of the voievod (king) Petru Rares of Moldavia. The windows on the right were of the room which was left to my grandparents, my bed was under these windows during the summer vacations.

the courtyard of my summer holidays

Three more families shared the house. Mr. and Mrs. Moscovici had no connection with Liliana, although sharing the same family name, quite common among the Romanian Jews. Mr. Mihailovici was a pharmacist and was very seldom at home, I think that he worked in another city. Mr. Sherban was an economist and the manager of the local CEC (savings deposit bank). I was sneaking in his room while he was at work to read from the books in his room, as he had what looked to me then an impressive library.

the new (great) synagogue

If the house kept the impressive dimensions that I remembered the streets seemed to have compressed. What I remembered as a long walk to the center of the city was a five minutes walk and the synagogue where my grandfather prayed for more than 40 years was even a shorter walk from the house. The building is impressive, and so is the history of the Jewish community in Piatra Neamtz which extends for more than half of a thousand of years. It’s a relatively new building built in 1839 and reconstructed after a fire in 1904. It is said however that successive synagogues on this place existed since the time of king Stefan the Great – as the St. John church built by him in the second half of the 15th century (one of the landmarks of the city that I will describe in the next episode) is situated less than the 150 stânjeni (about 300 m) distance that were to separate a synagogue from a church according to Moldavian law – so the explanation was that a synagogue was already there by the time the church was built.

the old wooden synagogue

What is certain and attested by documents is that many Jews came to Piatra Neamtz in the 17th century from Poland and Ukraine after the uprising and pogroms of Chmielniki. In the 18th century Jews were not allowed to build synagogues from stone, and this is how the Baal Shem Tov wooden synagogue was built in 1766. This synagogue unique in its style and method of contruction was recently renovated and said to hold wonderful wooden carvings executed in 1835 by Saraga Yitzhak Ben Moshe. Unfortunately despite the fact that the day was not a Shabat or holiday and the time was a reasonable 2 or 3PM the two synagogues were closed and locked, and no sign indicated how and when they can be visited. All that I could do was to take pictures from the street. Luckily Ruth Ellen Gruber – author of a wonderful book of Jewish Heritage Travel also has a Web site where she put some photos of the interior of the wooden synagogue – http://jewish-heritage-travel.blogspot.com/2009/12/romania-piatra-neamt-wooden-synagogue.html

This series is dedicated to Rodica and Virgil, my good friends of a lifetime, who made this trip possible.

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It took me a while to start this series of travel notes. I had to finish first the previous one, of course. Then some health adventures interfered. However, I think that these were just very good excuses. The real reason is that these are not usual travel notes. These places were not completely new for us. Our relation with them is special. We left Romania in 1984, at the peak of one of the most horrible periods in the history of the country. Although we came back to visit and we are visiting our country of birth twice a year for the last decade, most if not all of our visits were conscripted to Bucharest, seeing my mother, meeting friends, seeing one or two theater plays (when we are lucky to find tickets) and buying at least half a suitcase of books. This was the first time we had a few days of vacation, and thanks to our good friends we ventured out Romania’s capital city for a six days trip. Most of the places we visited were places we had been at least once in the past but that was more than a quarter a century ago. We found some of the elements of the geography unchanged, and some of the colors of the splendid churches still shining. Yet Romania was on many respects a new country for us, a space to discover. Hence this title which hides a paradox – can you be a tourist in your own country? I do not know yet the answer, and I may not know it even when I will finish this series of notes. I will write these in English, as I want my family and friends who do not speak Romanian to be able read them. One day when I will have time I may write a Romanian version as well.

wine on the side of the road

Rodica and Virgil took us from my mother’s home, and after we discovered how to lock the slightly broken trunk of the car we started our 360 kilometers trip to Targu Neamtz. I know the distance, as this was the trip that I had taken every summer until the age of 14 to the near-by Piatra Neamtz, the city in Moldavia were my father was born and where my grand-parents still lived. Their house, the house of my summer vacation will be the subject of the next episode.

Until getting there however we had to fuel – not only the auto but also ourselves. It was the end of September, and the sides of the road near the Vrancea area were full with small barracks that were selling young wine. Of course, the wine was from the previous year vintage, but still young and towards what the non-Romanian would be called demisec. Each barrack sells basically two sorts of wine – a red and a white. I’ll write more about Romanian wine later. We stopped at one of the last barracks. From the barrels the wine was poured into five litters plastic bottles. We bought one such bottle of red wine and one of white wine. We succeeded to finish the red one in the six days trip.

the small church

The itinerary took us through several cities which are not the most exciting places on earth, and actually until we crossed the now historical border between Valachia and Moldavia, flat and uninteresting. Yet there was one aspect the stroke us – almost each village not to speak about the bigger cities had at least one, in many cases more new churches. Romania undergoes after the fall of the Communism a religious renaissance. During the Communist rule atheist Marxism was the state religion, and very few new churches were built, actually many more were destroyed by a system that in many instances ignored or even oppressed the deep religious feelings of the majority of the population.

the big church

After 1990 the freedom of religion found its expression especially in the revival of the Orthodoxy (Eastern Christianity) which is embraced by the majority of the Romanian population. Rodica and Virgil explained how the system worked in many places. First a smaller church was built. The congregation gathered money and donations and a few years later bigger churches were built near-by, dwarfing the smaller ones. The architectural value of the buildings is very un-even, you can find everything from ugly to beautiful, from kitsch to art, from grotesque to sublime. What is obvious is that churches are everywhere. We shall see of course also the older ones and the fabulous monasteries in Moldavia and Bucovina, historical and art monuments which are unique in the whole world. For this you will need to follow however the coming episodes.