Antal Andor FÜLÖP

(Cluj-Napoca, 1908 – Cluj-Napoca, 1979)

“Even though he witnessed all the atrocities of the 21th century, it were not these that impacted him. At one time -perhaps when he was still a child- he got acquainted with human goodness, absolute purity and love, a stranger to the struggle for existence. These were the treasures he cherished and professed later on as an artist. He persistently and stubbornly strum this one chord. Studying his paintings, one cannot tell how people lived and what they felt at the time. One would not know of the destructions caused nor the invention of the penicillin. All we can see is that, even in these decades of contradictions, people have kept the essence that actually makes us human. We would be poorer if it hadn’t been for him” (Sándor Fodor).

Who would think that Antal Andor Fülöp, the uncrowned king of Transylvanian colourism, brought to life his brightest, most mature works, reflecting the light in his soul, in 1933, at a very young age, after he almost completely lost his sight as a result of the Spanish flu. Born in Cluj-Napoca, the son of a plumber, fuelled for a lifetime by his mother’s love, the sensitive artist searched for beauty in the world even amidst the cruel wars raging in the 20th century. His portraits and still lifes reflect his colourful soul. He dedicated his life to expressing artistic beauty. While his spiritual purity is attributable to his mother, his artistic style was shaped and consolidated by his friendship with Tasso Marchi, the genial painter who died at a young age, as well as by his study visits to Italy, where as a student at the Accademia della Belle Arti he mastered using Mediterranean colours characteristic to Italian neorealism. The darkness in his life is pierced by the finesse characteristic of Fra Angelico or Botticelli’s cathartic decorativism. “Generally, there is something personal in all your paintings… You are aware of this, not always consciously but instinctively – you should never forsake this, on the contrary, it should be enhanced here and there. There is something primitive, something fabulous, which adds charm to figurative things in particular…and this reminds me of the Italian primitives, Simone Martini more exactly” –writes Tasso Marchini, the artist’s best friend, invited to evaluate his paintings.

Two of the four paintings in the exhibition, Still Life with Flowers (1932) and Gabriella (1933) resulted from the enthusiasm following the study trips to Rome. These works of art marked the start of the career of the freshman at Belle Arte (1925-1929), the newly established school of fine arts in Cluj-Napoca.  The Two of Us (Self-Portrait with Irene), painted in 1943, and the Women Picking Apple, painted in 1948, -both representing preferred themes due to sentimental reasons- are creations of the mature artist. These paintings are dominated by the inner light compensating for the artist’s vision loss.