Celebrating digital artistry in underground surroundings: Michael Weinzettl attends the Lürzer's Archive 200 Best Digital Artists Worldwide Exhibition in Bucharest, Romania.
Image: Michael Weinzettl attends the opening of the exhibition
Last Thursday I had the pleasure of attending the opening of an exhibition celebrating the latest Lürzer’s Archive book, 200 Best Digital Artists Worldwide.
The event took place in an amazing location, the cellar of the Stirbei Palace, a mid-19th century neo-gothic building in Bucharest. During communist times, I was told, this very place – about two stories underground and only to be reached via rickety stairs – used to be Nicolaus Ceausescu’s wine cellar.
The palace as well as the whole area around had been rather neglected for years before attracting squatters from Bucharest’s booming underground arts scene and is now experiencing a kind of renaissance all set in the midst of a leafy jungle bursting from the concrete centre of the city.
For the exhibition, I had selected some 20 out of the 506 examples of state-of-the-art digital imaging in advertising showcased in “200 Best Digital Artists worldwide”. Among them were images by Nadav Kander, Surachai Puthikulangkura and the amazing Bucharest-based Carioca Studio (which I also got a chance to visit the next day).
The images had been blown up to an impressive format, were dramatically lit and exhibited in the main vault of the old cellar, while other works featured in the book were projected onto walls in unlit side passages. The whole thing was quite spectacular and drew some 250 visitors evening alone, including ad professionals, young people from Bucharest’s art scene and students.
At the opening I shared a few words on the making of the book, telling the visitors about how this was the last project that I had the chance to personally discuss with Walter Lürzer himself (he passed away in April of 2011) and how the first 1,000 or so submissions for the book had been all wrong for what we wanted to show:
Initially, we received loads of skilfully enhanced portraits and car photography where the ends to the digital means were just to idealise (make them look prettier, sexier, more streamlined, etc.) when what we really wanted to showcase were the “fantasy worlds”, in which the borders between photography, modelmaking and illustration were blurred.
I was mightily impressed by the great interest in Lürzer’s Archive and by the general atmosphere of creative ardour as well as an admirable “let’s take this thing into our own hands” attitude that seems to have been pervading Bucharest’s young creative scene for the past years.
Throughout my brief stay I was reminded of the atmosphere in Berlin in the decade after the fall of the Wall, as described by people who lived there at the time –and not only by the partly-dilapidated part freshly-renovated architectural glories of the city.
I moved to Berlin 13 years ago and only caught the tail-end of the creative upsurge and its accompanying atmosphere which by today has already, I feel, somewhat gelled and hardened into a kind of marketable commodity for the tourist trade. (I hasten to add, still to a much lesser extent than other cities such as certainly Paris, Vienna, or London.) At any rate, I wouldn’t be very surprised if within the next five years, Bucharest might become one of the top European places to be.
Image: Diana Dragomir [left] joins Michael Weinzettl and Andreea Dragut of AdPrint at the exhibition
The exhibit was organised by the AdPrint Foundation (many thanks to Andreea Dragut!) and with the invaluable help of Diana Dragomir, International Sales Agent for Lürzer's Archive and co-founder of Mind Treat Studios (along with her husband Costin) who developed the Lürzer’s Archive iOS apps.
Read about the 200 Best Digital Artists Worldwide book here | Couldn't attend the exhibition? Take a 360 degree tour using Mind Treat Studio's interactive panoramic pics.
Gallery images courtesy of Adi Bulboaca/AdPrint