Brukenthal National Museum

dates 21.06.2024 – 30.07.2024


The Brukenthal National Museum (Sibiu, Romania) is delighted to announce the upcoming retrospective “INNER NATURE” of Ioan Sbârciu, an unparalleled figure in Romanian and contemporary art scene. Curated by Alessandro Possati and Alexandru Constantin Chituță, and organized in collaboration with Zuecca Projects (Venice, Italy), this exhibition celebrates Sbârciu’s profound influence on the artistic landscape of Romania and showcases his extensive body of work inside one of the most ancient museums of the country, with artworks by Jan van Eyck, Hans Memling, Jacob Jordaens, Lucas Cranach, Pieter Brueghel, Lorenzo Lotto and Titian in its collection.


Ioan Sbârciu is one of Romania’s most significant painters, renowned for his monumental works and transformative impact on the country’s art education system during his tenure as a professor and dean at the University of Art and Design in Cluj-Napoca. His artistic achievements are highlighted by his large-scale paintings, including the 4×6 meter works currently exhibited in Venice at Squero Castello, during the Venice Art Biennale 2024, and the impressive 5×30 meter painting displayed at the MNAC Museum in Bucharest in 2019-2020.



Deeply connected to the context of his nation, Sbârciu’s career spans from his academic contributions to his activism against the deforestation of Transylvanian forests since the 1990s. This exhibition features a curated selection of paintings from various series, including “Don Quixote”, “Cinder Forest” and “Transylvanian Lights”. The “Cinder Forest” series reflects Sbârciu’s response to the forest that vanished due to deforestation, with cinder from burnt trees used in the pigments of the works. The “Transylvanian Lights” series, inspired by his memories as a child and his relationship with the nature, reconstructs interior landscapes where the memories overlapping as the brushes and colors on his canvases.


In a recent interview, Sbârciu shared: “I would like to quote the Romanian psychiatrist Eduard Pamfil, who said that the man lives in a world that traps him in the net of the possible; on the one hand he has the freedom of choice, which in itself is a complex issue, while on the other he is faced with the never-ending game of probability. There are waves and waves of events happening, like wars, crises, pandemics. So, in my paintings, all of these things overlap with the nostalgia for nature, childhood, lost paradise and the forest. For me, this is how an extraordinary theme comes into play: I have the opportunity to transform it into a personal search”.


Sbârciu’s landscapes are inner studies, reconstructed through traces and memories of a lost paradise, evoking the beautiful moments of his childhood and everyday life. Nor figurative and neither completely abstract, he his able to draw with colors in a coherent way, upon practically unlimited surfaces.


A fascinating parallel can be drawn between Sbârciu’s abstract landscapes and Pieter Brueghel the Younger’s “Winter Landscape with Bird-trap” (1631), which is part of the museum’s collection. While Brueghel’s work captures a specific moment in time with meticulous detail, portraying the serene yet precarious balance of nature and human existence, Sbârciu’s works transcend specific locations and moments, evoking an emotional and introspective journey through imagined and remembered landscapes. Both artists, despite their different approaches and eras, explore the interplay between humans and their environment.


Throughout his 50 years in higher education, Sbârciu has taught various modes of expression, from realism to abstract and conceptual art, mastering these forms depending on the theme and his mood at the time. As the artist described: “I start from reality, but the works become abstract. Perhaps this is in reverse, but for me, painting is everything at once. Since we don’t talk about a representation on the surface, but an understanding of construction from the perspective of form, everything is reduced to spatial representation. When we talk about spatial representation, we talk about painting”.


Ioan Sbârciu’s works are housed in museums and private collections across the globe, including Romania, Belgium, The Netherlands, Germany, France, Austria, Hungary, Italy, Greece, Spain, Portugal, Taiwan, Hong Kong, China, Canada, and the USA.


Complete press folder:





June 21 – July 30, 2024
Wednesday-Sunday, 9AM-5PM


Brukenthal National Museum, Piața Mare 4 – 5, Sibiu, Romania


Copyright © Zuecca Projects 2024