World Fine Art Professionals and their Key-Pieces, 50 - Alina Smocov
At the moment Alina Smocov had completed her art education in Arad and Timisoara in Romania, she had amassed a lot of technical knowledge. She was one of the best students and was a master etcher. She participated in several biennials which brought and her work all over the world.
She met two Dutch artists in 2005 at an International Biennial, the Arad International Biennale of Contemporary Arts in Romenia, who invited her to have a solo exhibition in the Netherlands, that took place in Roermond. She returned to Romania, but the experience from the Netherlands remained in her mind. And she came back in 2008. In the next four years she attended art education, the Royal Academy of Art in The Hague. This time, the training was not technical, but the experiment was central, she learned “let go” and also learned Dutch language as well.
That’s why it is easy to talk with her in her room just outside the center of Rotterdam on a Sunday in May. Her works were hanging on the walls. I see the big camera. Photography is her passion, besides painting and etching.
Her artworks are about silence, spirituality and religion. She is on a journey to discover herself through art, she says. Alina Smocov: ‘Being alone gives me concentration. I need to be alone. In this way I can focus.’ She is a member of Taizé Community. The first time she attended a Taizé meeting was in Zagreb in 2006. The Community of Taizé is not only situated in the French Taizé village, but alternates as well in places across Europe. At the meetings – with many visitors from all over the world and with the Taizé brothers – there was a lot of singing followed by long periods of silence.
Alina: ‘In the meetings, the same song is several times repeated. As a result you get into a meditative mood. The same mood I need when I paint. This way I can create the art that speaks my soul. I am on a path to myself whilst creating art. That gives me the power to decide. What color should I choose? How much color should I choose?’ Sometimes she chooses minimalist grey artworks, although – if you watch closely – there is some relief to discern, for instance the contours of a face or a body. Three-dimensional work in fact. She made them in oil colours. In addition she made etchings of “The Light of Taizé”.
When she graduated at the Royal Academy she received the Goedman Award, a prize of the Academy for its students. Alina: ‘I was very pleased to receive the prize of the Royal Academy. I was speechless on the stage. I have worked hard to bring quality in my etchings.
When I ask her for her key work, she mentions a number of works. I see them hanging on the walls. Among others the two grey paintings ‘Innocence’ and ‘I don’t want to lose my heart’.
Theresa of Ávila
Theresa of Ávila is an important person for Alina. She was a Spanish mystic (1515-1582), who was later canonized. She is one of the most famous mystics among catholic saints. Along with Saint John of the Cross she reformed the Order of Carmel. Her writings have influenced mystical theology so dramatically that Pope Paul VI declared her – as first female Saint - to Doctor of the Church. Her writings are among the highlights of Spanish literature.
In her autobiography she describes her experience of religious ecstacy when she meets an angel. Theresa of Ávila: ‘I saw in his hand a long spear of gold and at the point there seemed to be a little fire. He thrusted it in my heart, it seemed, again and again, my entrails were pierced. When he drew it out, it felt as if my entrails were drawn out too. I was all on fire with a great love of God. The pain was so great that it made me moan, and yet so surpassing was the sweetness of this excessive pain was at the same time so sweet, that I could not wish to be rid of it. The soul is satisfied only with God. The pain is not physical, but spiritual, although the body does have a share in it. It is a caress of love, so sweet, which takes place between the soul and God. I pray to God that he feels it too, so that I’m clearly not lying.’
The great sculptor Bernini made the statue “The Ecstasy of Saint Theresa” in the Santa Maria della Vittoria in Rome between 1647 and 1652, in which he depicted the above in an atmosphere of “celestial light”. Alina Smocov’s work on Theresa of Ávila consists of several parts, especially photographs and paintings based on the book by Theresa of Ávila titled ‘The Interior Castle or The Mansions’. In it, the soul is compared to a fortress which has seven rooms / accomodations.
Theresa of Ávila: ‘…. A most beautful crystal globe, made in a shape of a castle, and containing seven mansions. In the seventh and innermost of them was the King of Glory, in the greatest splendour, illumining and beautifying them all. The nearer one got to the centre, the stronger was the light. Outside the palace limits everything was foul, dark and infested with toads, vipers and other venomous creatures.’
Alina has made several pictures of herself as Theresa of Ávila. That’s part of her research to find her own way in these seven rooms / accomodations. Alina: ‘It’s how I see myself in these rooms. I make self-portraits as Theresa of Ávila.’ You can see the two photos in grey and the two nude photos. It is an important project for her and she is deeply involved. She makes a Ode to Theresa of Ávila who was born exactly 500 years ago.
Alina: ‘What I do is emotional and heart touching.’ She has contacts with Spain and Spanish artists for a while. She exhibited in the town of Archidona and in Malaga. In Zeddam, Netherlands she recently joined with Spanish artists in the Exhibition “Encuentros 5 Lustrum” in Art Gallery Hispanico. Her contribution was a self-portrait as a spiritual person, a silkscreen on canvas.
She opens a black box, with etchings created in 2013 after a visit to Berlin. Lights are to be seen, which are printed in different layers of colours. The light are shimmering. There are also self-portraits, printed in the same way. Alina: ‘They are images of experimental Taizé moments in my life.’