George Robescu
Jan 4, 2014 9:21PM

Ștefan Sava / 31 / Bucharest / Artist


How do you wish to die?

I really don’t.

What’s the last show that you saw?

Image. Archive“ at MNAC.

Describe a typical day in your life as an artist.

Unfortunately, there’s no such thing. I usually work on short-term projects, very intensively from beginning to end.The rest of the time, I just explore all kinds of ideas.

What’s the most indispensable item in your studio?

I don’t really have a studio, but I think my books and my computer are indispensable items for my work.

Where are you finding ideas for your work these days?

I get inspired a lot by what I read, but what ultimately does it for me is workingwith the medium in question and interacting with a certain space and time frame.

Do you collect anything?

I do, I collect old photographs and lately old negatives or glass slides.

What is your karaoke song?

I don’t have such a thing.

What’s the last artwork you purchased?

Around 200 anonymous negatives from Romania from the 1930s, even if they don’t really count as artworks.

Do you have a gallery/museum-going routine?

No, it all depends on my spare time or on how interesting a show seems to be.

What’s the last great book you read?

Georges Didi Huberman’s Images malgré tout. It had a huge impact on my work.

What work of art do you wish you owned?

Carpați”  by Geta Brătescu (from the ‘80s), a huge circle made of pieces of paper from half-smoked Carpați cigarettes.

What under-appreciated artist, gallery, or work do you think people should know about?

I am fond of the idea of recontextualizing and reactivating old debates or practices, which may seem outmoded but which can introduce additional layers of complexity to our view of the present.For example, the techniques pertaining to the art of memory.

What are your hobbies?

Collecting for sure, not only photography related items, but also all kinds of old objects.

What is your present state of mind?

A combination between relaxation and anxiety.

Look at your watch. What time is it?

8:17 p.m.

Drag every day or only on special occasions?

Not me.

What turns you off?

Chaos or impulsiveness.

How about pleasure?

Attention paid to details.

Explain what you do in +/- 100 words

I keep on experimenting until I find some stability, which sharpens my focus.

What’s your strongest memory of your childhood?

It’s more about a certain atmosphere or landscape that I recall, from a provincial town in Romania in the ‘80s.

What jobs have you done other than being an artist?

I worked for a couple of years for Cosmin Bumbuţ, as an assistant.

What is your dream project?

I don’t have such a thing. I only hope that I can continue to do what I do for as long as I can.

What’s the best piece of advice you’ve been given?

Be patient.

Know any good jokes?


What was your first work of art?

My first works of art were those that I included in my first solo show “Atoms and Void” (2010).

Did they say you had natural talent in art school?

I actually did not attend an art school, I only have a master of fine arts.

What advice would you give to a young person who wants to become an artist?

Be honest with your work, try to identify your own path and work a lot, without comparing your work with the work of others.

Do you think the art world is dead?

I don’t think it’s dead; it has transformed into something more difficult to comprehend.

Who do you think is the best business artist in the world?

There are too many.

Do you think artists of the future will form companies or go public and sell stock?

I hope not.

Do you ever think about politics?

Yes, quite often. There’s always something political in my art.

Do you think your work will go up in value when you’re gone?

Well, by that time, it will not do me any good.

Do you sleep alone?

Most of the time, no.

What time do you get up in the morning?

Sometime between 8 and 10 am.

What do you do in the morning?

I have a large coffee and I read the news.

Are rich people different from poor people?

Not fundamentally, but some differences cannot be avoided.

Do you ever feel like an imposter? Why? Why not?

To a certain degree, I think all artists are imposters, including me.The thing is that you have to fight that and be as honest as you can.

Did you ever feel like giving up on art?

No. I have started quite late.

How do you feel when (if) you discover another artist who does something very similar to your own work?

It depends, if there is a great chance that s/he knew my art and s/he consciously copied it, I would probably get very angry.But I think these things happen quite often in art without any planning. There is too much paranoia around us.

Do you have the ambition to change things with your work (art, society, people)? Does it seem important to you?

It’s complicated, but to a certain degree, yes. It’s more about raising the level of awareness on topics related to my works.

Do you care about who buys your art? What kind of people, institutions? Would you refuse someone?

Yes, I care. I wouldn’t sell my art to somebody who wants only to cover his/her empty walls.

How many times did you break up with art?

Never – I’m committed to it.

Do your works need explaining? Would you like everyone to understand them? Do you think it’s ok to have a target audience?

My work needs some explaining, yes. I don’t know if I can function as an artist without a theoretical background.It’s important for the audience to find their own questions, starting from those that I raised in my works.So I do think I have a target audience, but one that can be easily expanded.

Is nail art art?

Why not?

What would your super power be?

Read people’s minds.

When were you happiest?

I can’t answer that – it’s personal.

What was your most embarrassing moment?

Don’t recall a significant one.

What is your favourite word?

There are a bunch of them, in Romanian: chiptrup etc.

What is the worst thing anyone’s said to you?

That I’m too self-centered.

What do you owe your parents?

Almost everything.

What does love feel like?

I can’t really explain it in a few words.

How do you relax?

Usually, going out for a drink or surfing through images that I collect.

What is the most important lesson life has taught you?

Unfortunately, that I cannot trust too many people.

Do you believe in progress?

Of course I do, we are part of it.

Would you under any conditions accept to show your works under anonymity?

I would love to try it sometimes.

Do you like artist collectives?

Yes, I usually like them.

Does being an artist make you a better cook? A better lover? Does your work influence other aspects of your life?

All aspects of my life are intimately interconnected.

Do you think it’s important to be self centered in order to succeed as an artist?

To a certain point, yes. But I cannot understand people who promote themselves at all costs.Sooner or later, they forget what made them take up art in the first place.

Would you prefer your art to be timeless or timely?

Both, I think.

What is the contemporary meaning of the death of art?

For me, art is dead if it is purely decorative.

Is Peaches more attractive than Mona Lisa?

They are equally attractive.

Do you know who said “art is whatever gets you laid”?


What’s your favorite art themed funny shirt?

Don’t have one.

Would you turn down dinner with Marina Abramovic because you find her distinctly annoying?


Did you ever look at an Arcimboldo painting and got hungry?

That’s a silly question.

Did you think that was a happening?


Do you buy postcards at museum stores?


What’s better: your art on a tote bag or on a notebook?

None of those.

Look or look at me?

Both I think. There’s a certain level of exhibitionism in everything we do or make, if it’s opened to the public.

What rhymes with art? The Louvre or The Commune?

The Louvre.

Who in the art world deserves most to be punched in the face?

God, there are too many to list.

What did you ever do to cure loneliness?

Call a friend.

You have 50 masterpieces of standing male marble nudes. what would you do with them?

I wouldn’t have a clue.

What do you fear more: no reviews or bad reviews?

No reviews is way worth than bad reviews.

How much is too much for a painting?

There are no limits in the art world

I say catastrophe, you say..?

Show me where.

A can of kerosene is the answer. What was the question?

What does the House of the People need?

Did you ever write a fan letter to Bryan Cranston? Why not?

I saw only 2 seasons of “Breaking bad”, I would have to finish the series first.

What program do you use for pirating music?

Different torrent websites.

How did your gang initiation go?

I have never been part of a gang.

What should burn first: Christie’s or the Parliament?

Tough one…hmmm…The Parliament.

Is there enough art for all the money?

I’m pretty sure there is.

For the love of god. Who would buy a diamond skull?

The Russians.

What art themed tattoo would you get?

I’m still looking for one, I haven’t decided yet.

Would it be better than a diamond skull?

Well, no.

Seriously now. What’s the maximum time to spend in a museum?

One day.

“Would the fact that Governor Rockefeller has not denounced President Nixon’s Indochina Policy be a reason for your not voting for him in November?”

Hasn’t Hans Haacke already replied to this question?

When’s the last time you read the newspapers?

I read them on a daily basis.

What did you learn?

That so many things don’t really matter.

When can you go into the supermarket and buy what you need with your good looks? America is this correct? I saved Latin. What did you do?

I don’t understand the questions.

Do you have social disease?

Not really, and if I have one I can quickly cure myself.

What’s the outside of a gallery?

A huge project space.

What mechanism do you reproduce?


Can art be collective again?

Yes, it can be.

How do you feel as a capitalist entrepreneur?



What is a curator?

A partner in a constructive dialogue.

What to do with the contemporary?

Look for what is really good.

What is the public?

The only one that can complete your art works.

What is an exhibition?

Artistic practices dressed in a concept.

What about collecting?

It can become an obsession.

What is the future of art?

I can’t say, we’ll just have to wait and see.

What is the process?

A necessary transition or even an objective.

What about responsibility?

Something rare nowadays.

What’s the first artwork you ever sold?

Not a piece of information I am willing to share.

What project are you working on now?

A video-essay about how to read images.

What’s the last show that surprised you? Why?

Animismus”, curated by Anselm Franke, Haus der Kulturen der Welt (Berlin). It was just amazing.

Do you make a living off your art?

Not yet.

What’s the weirdest thing you ever saw happen in a museum or gallery?

Nothing can really surprise me now.

What’s your art-world bête noire?

I try to focus on my own problems.

What’s your favorite post-gallery watering hole or restaurant?

Any, as long as the beer flows freely and there’s good company.

What would you do to get it?

I usually let things develop a momentum of their own. I don’t have the stomach for shameless self-promotion.

Who’s your favorite living artist?

For me, it’s less about name dropping and more about artistic practices which resonate with my own pursuits.


do visit: his latest exhibition

courtesy: Ștefan Sava & Ivan Gallery

interview: George Robescu

George Robescu