A Chat With Our October Artist

A curious fellow with a mouthful of a name, we were determined to learn a little more about our artist of the moment Eugen-Florin Zamfirescu – or Florin for short.

You’re an awfully intricate artist and your art has an important back-story to it. Your hobbies include the study of astrophysics and philosophy, and you can count both Romania and Toronto as your homes.

Tell me, where do you start when you first get up in the morning?

There is no routine except that of daily hard work. I would start one day by painting for a few hours, then would read or compose music, then take a break to clear my thoughts, come back and continue to paint until late into the night. I could spend most hours just reading or working on a photography project or a short film…there are days when I take a stroll in Trinity Bellwoods and just think about a project; later on I might draw some sketches and then destroy it all to start afresh the next day. Some days I just like to go around Kensington market or one of the small shops in my neighbourhood and talk to the owners…

That sounds like quite the day. You obviously don’t have Facebook or you wouldn’t be so productive!

I do have Facebook, but I am one of those people who are curious and passionate about every subject. I am always flooded by questions – How are civilisations born? How do they develop? How do they fall, disappear and are reborn again? What factors contribute to all this? Can art help science and philosophy, and can it help humanity find answers to fundamental questions about our stay here on Earth? Can art help in finding solutions?

Which is your favourite piece out of the Whispering Civilisations collection?

One gets rather attached when spending over eight month with a canvas building the story within so it is really hard to choose. If I were to choose, I would say my favourite painting is always the last one as it allows me to dream of possibilities for the one to come after.

I like that decision; it gives the impression of an infinite number of endings to your story. Who would you say is your all-time favourite artist?

I would find it impossible to chose one artist when there are so many that played and are playing a great influence on me. If I were to mention a few: Caravaggio, Durer, Leonardo da Vinci, Dali, Rembrandt, Magritte, Brancusi, Turner, Vermeer…

As a self-described Modernist, what drew you to take a realist stance with your ‘Whispering Civilisations’ artworks?

I do not think I could classify myself as realist or modernist, I think I am a bit of both, depending on the project, the medium I am working in, what I want to convey to the viewer. I bet all my friends remember my Fauve period when my apartment was covered in splashes of violent red and green lines and dots.

With Whispering Civilizations I wanted to be able to convey the beauty of tall ships, the feeling of time, its permanence and its passing; I love old machinery, maps, old objects in general and wanted it all part of my paintings – adopting a realist style helped me achieve that.

In film, sculpture, music, I am still more of a modernist though. As an artist I tend to run away from definitions, and frameworks, and boxes. I am self-taught in painting and one reason in avoiding formal training was so that I can keep myself open to all possibilities.

Your Whispering Civilisations collection dominantly features ships – be it their intimate details or their impressive profiles. Are you a sailor?

I think I know intimately every sail and boat element in my paintings, every line and why it is there. I am a sailor, but just in my mind…

Finally, do you still plan on becoming an astrophysicist?

As a painter I work a lot with light, I play with its characteristics and thus I need to understand light. From here stems my interest in physics. I study physics on my own, it fascinates me. I never planned to become an astrophysicist, but I am sure in a parallel universe I am one.

Thanks for chatting with us, Florin!

Whispering Civilisations is exhibiting October 2nd-25th. The opening reception will be held on October 3rd, 6.30PM-9.30PM at Twist Gallery.