C Fodoreanu has a taste for mystery, memory, and deep dives into the poetic psyche. He was born in Transylvania into a family with a long tradition of icon painting, and in a way, although he works across mediums from photography to sculpture, video, and creative writing, that early practice is very much alive in his studio. A physician who also studied philosophy as well as art, Fodoreanu is on a multivalent quest to understand humanity as an aspect of nature. A rediscovered trove of old photographs from his childhood vacations to a beautiful, possibly haunted lake in Transylvania inspired Fodoreanu’s latest series, combining vintage and new photographs in a book-based project that has since expanded into a multimedia exhibition. Ode to the Lake Sacalaia examines the artist’s own personal sense of self, events that were formational to his identity, and the fragments of half-remembered times — while at the same time engaging a much broader discourse as to how photography expresses the many qualities of myth, legend, love, fear, the body, and all the things that make us human.
SNG: What is your short answer to people who ask what your work is about?
FODOREANU: I work in all mediums, from photography to sculpture, video, and installation. My work pursues a poetry of light, and explores the human body as a metaphor for how humans relate to the surrounding nature and each other, faith, mythology, play, love, intimacy, memory, fleetingness of time, and the fragility of life.
What would you be doing if you weren’t an artist?
I think that being an artist is like breathing. One cannot not breathe. Art bonds everything together, gives meaning, it is the most generous activity — to oneself and to others. Art is full-time, even when at the daily job, even when asleep. Art is the culmination of thought, intuition, and feelings, geared to ripple an effect in the viewer. Almost as if to say, “Hey, look there? Do you see what I see?” I am a practicing physician during the day, and a practicing artist the rest of my time. Each practice informs the other. I think the difference between them is in how many people I can reach at the same time, striving to relay and influence them while raising the awareness and hope of multitudes. I will still do the same, if I were not an artist, just at a smaller scale, one person at a time.
Did you go to art school? Why/Why not?
Yes, I did go to art school. I just received my MFA from the School of Visual Arts in New York City. Pursuing graduate study enabled me to rethink the nature and direction of my art practice, enabled me to tap into the energy of a communal experience intensely focused on contemporary art. I became connected to larger spheres of influences and encounters on a global stage, and became part of discussions that were going on in the various art worlds. I had an echo chamber to receive authentic feedback from like-minded individuals, engaging in a dialogue to further reflect and work on my projects. Pursuing graduate study enabled me to explore outside my comfort zone and deepen my art practice.
When was your first show?
In my home village back in Transylvania, every middle of August a pilgrimage takes place at the oldest monastery around. Almost a quarter of million people walk from all parts of the country, rain or shine. People make this trip at least once in their lifetime, at times barefoot, at times singing and holding up godly flags, reaching towards a painted icon on glass that once teared up and healed people with its tears. In front of our house on the main road towards the monastery, my family placed faces painted on glass icons resembling religious saints as taught by my great-grandfather in the tradition of the place. His knowledge reached me through my father. Among these icons, some of mine were placed on the crude grass. They showed faces on connected arms and legs together forming a body, saintly bodies. They were free to take. Every year, growing up, I had to make more and more.
When is/was your current/most recent/next show or project?
I recently installed my latest project titled Ode to the Lake Sacalaia at Ronald Silverman Fine Arts Gallery at CalState LA, curated by Mika Cho. The deepest freshwater lake in Transylvania inspired this exhibition —Lake Sacalaia, a place steeped in legend and folklore, known as the Loch Ness of Transylvania. Legend has it that the lake formed when a salt mine under a small Roman village caved in about two thousand years ago, leading to the flooding of the village. When the water is clear, it is said, one can still see the spires of the basilica, the highest point of the submerged village. Over the years, many divers have tried reaching the basilica, but some, heartbreakingly, have not reemerged. I spent my childhood summers in a rowboat on this lake, looking down in hopes of catching a glimpse of the submerged basilica.