The Transylvanian Museum of Ethnography, a public cultural institution that operates under the authority of the Cluj County Council, invites you on Wednesday, March 1, 2023, from 5:00 p.m., to the varnishing of the “Transylvanian Bestiary” exhibition by Mrs. Rada Niță Josan, illustrator and graphic artist. The event will take place at the institution’s headquarters, Reduta Palace, 21, Memorandum street. The exhibition can be visited until April 2nd of this year.
In the following lines, we offer you a presentation of the exhibition, received from its author.
“The present exhibition displays the works that I have created in recent years during a residency offered by the Visual Kontakt gallery. As part of this, I made a series of pen drawings and engravings depicting a fabulous Transylvania - imaginary narratives of some characters inspired by the Romanian mythology and folklore, in their fantastic journeys through medieval Transylvania, at the same time highlighting the heritage of the Saxon villages, namely the fortified churches.
My intention is, therefore, to create a panorama of a fantastic Transylvania where there are unusual weather phenomena, invocations and enchantments, with the aim to negotiate the protection against fabulous beings, a place where we meet traveling characters, visitors of Saxon fortresses, guards, in which characters from the works of Hieronymus Bosch become visitors and participants in bizarre events in Copșa Mare, etc. The motif of fire is also present, of the fortified church in flames, a symbol for the endangered patrimony, a danger expressed here through some miraculous events, but which, in fact, speak of a reality.
The exhibition aims to familiarize the public with a part of the medieval architecture of this region, but also with creatures which have their roots in the Romanian folk imaginary (Crasnisc, Devils, some of which hold the sun in the sky, the hedgehog, the genii and moroi (the dead), charmers, Sânziene, the Woman of the Forest), complementary to the Dracula myth to which Transylvania and Romania are linked and promoted. I note, however, that the characters in my bestiary are interpretations, not illustrations, of the beings they refer to, and that there is a certain freedom in the way I imagine them.
At the same time, the exhibition is also a retrospective for older engravings and bookplates, which also explore the Romanian cultural heritage, but also interferences with that from the Central European space, especially with the Polish one. The dialogue between past and present is an aspect that I seek and discuss in my creation, with an emphasis on cultural heritage, folklore, folk beliefs and memory of place. Cluj is present in several of my works, and one of them is dedicated to the Transylvanian Museum of Ethnography, a place of great significance for me, and for the ethnologist Romulus Vuia (its initiator).
Most of the female characters in my works have, as their starting point, peasant women from photographs that are part of ethnography books or albums dedicated to traditional garments, such as those of Denis Galloway, M. Fischer, N. Iuga, Nicolae Dunăre or Florea B. Florescu. They travel along Transylvania and borrow traits of supernatural beings. I tried to highlight the splendid Romanian folk costumes (the “altiță” shirt was included in the UNESCO cultural heritage last year).
The works are accompanied by folklore texts (passages from ethnology works and incantations), which are a constant landmark in my creation, such as the ethnology researches of Simion Florea Marian, Tudor Pamfile, Elena Niculiță Voronca, Gh. Pavelescu, Ovidiu Bîrlea, Ion Taloș and Mihai Coman.”