It is more than seven years now since I and my wife Cristina undertook our month-long trip to Maramureș. Ever since, I wanted to publish a book about the region, focusing on its people and its artists. At the time – 2009 – there were very few photography books on the region, albeit some of the very best (“Maramureș”, by a Maramureș loving Japanese who discovered the region by accident, during communist times – Miya Kosei – which I regard as the most beautiful and sincere photography book about the region, as well as “Maramures: The Land of Wood“, the beautiful black and white photography of Ana Bârcă). Continue reading The People of Maramureș→
2016 started on a sad note. Godja Pătru Pupăză, a fable like character, passed away on 3 January. He was 81 years old.
I met the artist in the summer of 2009, at his home in Valea Stejarului. Those were very happy times. He was surrounded by his family, his son-in-law was carving a Maramureș cross “troiță”, his nephew was strolling around, at times making attempts to help his father chisel the wooden cross, despite the fact that he had yet to learn to speak.
In Săcel, another wonder has survived the centuries: unglazed, red ceramic pottery. It is the only place in Romania where unglazed red pottery is still produced. The family of Tănase Burnar of Săcel has been making ceramic ware for more than eleven generations. The technique is the same as the one in the prehistoric La Tène period in Dacia, using a very unique, greasy type of clay found in the area at 12 to 15 meters depth in the hills near the village.
Godja Pătru Pupăză from Valea Stejarului (once a standalone village, now part of Sighetu Marmaţiei) is renowned for his wood carving skills – one can see his wood-made commemorative crosses, the troiţe, in many Romanian communities abroad. Besides crosses and gates, he creates small decorative objects, which impress through craftsmanship.
Nicolae and Maria Pipaş need no introduction in the art loving circles. The initiated traveling to Sighetu Marmaţiei spares no effort to visit the Pipaş Museum, truly a collection of several museums, an impressive repository of old traditional art of Maramureş, of works by prominent Romanian painters and engravers, of carpets, ceramics, furniture, lace and more.
I first met Vasile Şuşcă in May 2009, at a traditional festival in the Hoteni village. I had known him and his his masks from pictures; even so, it was hard to recognize him: his rich, proverbial mustache wasn’t there anymore. Less than a month later, I paid him a visit inside his artistic den, a former grain millhouse abutting a river bed by now dried out for more than a couple of decades.