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Cornelia Cristea | Artist | Ireland

A place of wonder where the show must go on. A performance where everything is available to see, yet the mystery hidden behind the act remains the enchanting intrigue of the circus. Documenting this mysterious exhibition is Cornelia Cristea. Cornelia or “Nellie” (as she is known) was born in 1973 in Romania and is now living in Ireland with her family actively experimenting with different forms of creative media and artistic forms. This exclusive feature covers Nellie’s most recent body of work aptly named “CirCus”.

Upon viewing Nellies work for the first time I fell into a hypnotised state of mind and felt intrigued to understand where her inspiration and direction of her work arose from. The artist has a bold way of using highly contrasting tones in combination with a healthy amount of acrylic paint. We can evidently see the amount of careful thought and imagination in each piece which I believe.

Cornelia’s exhibition consisted of acrylic on canvas paintings capturing the atmosphere and illusion of the circus. The artist incorporates dark colours and tones and I often find myself lost in the contrasting patterns she scatters around her piece which add a guerrilla frame to her work. In her work there exists an edge of roughness which can symbolise the rule of the circus which is that the show must go on. Despite the emotion and atmosphere in the troupe, a performance must be displayed regardless of any potential upset. The artist nails this approach.

Cornelia Cristea’s “CirCus” exhibition holds the power to bring you on a trip into the intrigue and mystery of an old-time vintage fascination for the theatrical. In each piece, you capture the extravagant movement and vibrant emotion whilst unfolding the story of an enchanting show. This exhibition is a gateway into the artistic genius that Cornelia possesses. Due to the fascination surrounding her exhibition, we reached out to Nellie for an interview to discuss her artistic background, her influence and her artistic approach.

“My name is Cornelia Cristea, everyone knows me by Nellie. I was born in Romania in 1973. I grew up experimenting with drawing, embroidery, poetry and drama. After studying general nursing and social psychology, I left my native country in 2001 to pursue a career in health care in Ireland. I live in Dublin with my family. I love it here, I find it so energising walking around the city centre and grabbing a coffee at a local terrace. My music likes are a mixture of contrasting styles as you probably expected. From the old jazz of Nina Simon to the sophistication of Rage Against the Machine () or Eric Clapton’s guitar to Namaste Indian flute, there is so much grace in so many forms of music. ”

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The artist behind the art.

What does being an artist mean to you?

In recent years I’ve been experimenting with different media including painting, drawing, collage and etching. I equally enjoy studying mixed media and contemporary art at NCAD. For me, art is exploring, being, living, and flowing. It’s not a doing, but more an allowance to being.

What events led up to becoming an artist?

There is no particular event that led up to me being an artist, though joining my own kids in painting activities has helped this evolution in recent years. Ever since I was a small child, I was involved in drawing, drama, singing or performing of some kind. Though it did not follow a linear path, art and I are in a long-term affair.

Where do you find inspiration?

I’m a very visual person. I find inspiration everywhere, in real life. Everything the eyes can see, everything surrounding us has a dose of lyricism that can be transcended aesthetically I think. I often find creative solutions to complex problems and aspects of my work or life.

Describe your artistic style.

I mostly use acrylic and plaster in my painting practice, printmaking techniques, knives and hands to apply materials on canvas. The deep-edged canvases are saturated with layers and layers of paint, washed multiple times underwater, a process which intentionally leaves a vintage, unfinished effect on the images.

My art is often a step into my past memories. ‘CirCus‘ collection is a biographical work centred around the main theme, an old show in which I am confessing my fascination for the theatrical. It evokes my deeply personal connection with the old times and my feelings of trying to bring it all into a performative act. I am indulging in layers of rusty, fading shades complemented by vivid gestural symbols of movement and spectacle in an abstract expressionist style I guess, judging by my influences.

Who / What influences you?

Among contemporary artists of inspiration are Oscar Murillo, Ruby Sterling and Eunice Parsons.

What emotions and feelings do you hope to bring out in your audience?

I want to bring a fantasy world on stage by creating these complex collaged mixed media canvases with the intention of both an introspection into my interpretation of the world and an invitation for viewers to participate by diving into their own imagination.

Plans for the future?

I am going to be around continuing to paint, layer and explore more materials on canvas. I don’t think I have big plans but I would love to have pieces of the CirCus collection in a private exhibition in Dublin soon.

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