Horia Bernea

Horia Bernea

b. 1938 - d. 2000, Bucharest, Romania

Horia Bernea was an important Romanian artist, representative for the conceptualist practices from the Communist era, and for the spiritual directions in Romanian painting before and after 1989. Blending modernity and tradition, the abstract and the figurative, his works tend to place emphasis on the texture and the materiality of the painting, not in formalist terms, but as a way of confronting the spiritual challenges of contemporary times. From 1990 until his death in 2000 he was director of the newly (re)opened Romanian Peasant Museum, institution that received in 1996 the "European Museum of the Year” award. His works have been shown in the Vienna Biennale 2015, in the Art Encounters 2015 Biennale, Timisoara, Romania, in exhibitions at The National Museum of Contemporary Art, Bucharest, The National Museum of Art, Bucharest, at Centre Pompidou, Paris, Richard Demarco Gallery, Edinburgh, The Romanian Pavilion in The Venice Biennale, among others.

Horia Bernea, "Prapor", oil on canvas, 103 x 103 cm, photo credits Ștefan Sava
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1990-2000 director of the National Peasant Museum, Bucharest


1957-1959 – Faculty of Mathematics and Physics, Bucharest University, Bucharest
1959-1962 – Technical School of Architecture, Bucharest
1962-1964 – The Pedagogical Institute in Bucharest, Drawing Department

Selected solo exhibitions:

2015 – Hills and Plains. Ion Țuculescu and Horia Bernea (Craiova Art Museum, Craiova, Romania)
2014 – Watercolours 1999-2000 (Ivan Gallery, Bucharest); The Bernea Horizon (“Palatele Brâncovenești” Cultural Center, Mogoșoaia, Romania)
2013 – Works by Horia Bernea in the Mircea Pinte Collection (Cluj Museum of Art, Cluj-Napoca)
2010 – Real Time (National Museum of Contemporary Art, Bucharest)
2009 – Horia Bernea or Painting as Redemption (Romanian Cultural Institute, Paris); Horia Bernea. La réconciliation avec l’image (Le Cloître Lucien Wercollier de l’Abbaye de Neumünster, Luxembourg)
2008 – Horia Bernea. Appropriate Gestures (The Museum of the Romanian Peasant, Bucharest)
2004 – Horia Bernea & Paul Neagu. Confluences (National Museum of Contemporary Art, Bucharest); Works by Horia Bernea in Dr. Sorin Costina Collection (Matthias Corvinus House, Cluj, Romania)
2001 – Early Drawings (Sabina & Jan Negulescu Gallery, Bucharest)


1998 – Columns (Bistrița Năsăud, România)
1997 – Concentrations-Columns (retrospective exhibition at The National Museum of Art, Bucharest & Brukenthal Museum, Sibiu); Gardens and Iconostases (Accademia di Romania, Rome); Watercolours (French Cultural Institute, Bucharest); Horia Bernea Retrospective Exhibition (Constanța, Romania) 
1995 – Exhibition in Bacău (Romania)
1994 – Pillar (Catacomba Gallery, Bucharest); Gardens (3/4 Gallery, Bucharest)
1992 – Prapor (Mucsarnok Kunsthalle, Budapest)
1990 – Works by Horia Bernea made in France between 1974-1990 (Vaison la Romaine, France)
1985 – Prapor (National Museum of Art, Bucharest; Bastion Gallery, Timișoara)
1980 – H. Bernea exhibition Riverside Studios (London); Hill V (Academy of Arts, Liverpool)
1978 – Hill V (Simeza Gallery, Bucharest)
1977 – Hill IV (Helios Gallery, Timisoara; Timișoara Museum of Art; Museum of the Criș Region, Oradea) 
1976 – Hill IV (The History Museum of Communist Party, Bucharest); Richard Demarco Gallery (Edinburgh / simultaneaously with a Paul Neagu solo show)
1975 – Hill III (Richard Demarco Gallery, Edinburgh; Generative Art Gallery, London)
1974 – Hill II (Romanian Atheneum, Bucharest)
1972 – Hill I (Simeza Gallery, Bucharest)
1970 – Richard Demarco Gallery (Edinburgh); College University (Birmingham)
1969 – Concentrations (Romanian Atheneum, Bucharest)

Group exhibitions (selection):

2015 – Mapping Bucharest (Vienna Biennale; Art Encounters, Timișoara, Romania)
2005 – Portrait. Mood and Reflection (“Palatele Brâncovenești” Cultural Center, Mogoșoaia, Romania); Depot (National Museum of Contemporary Art, Bucharest)
2004 – Prolog (Arad Art Museum, Arad, Romania)
2001 – Preview I (3/4 Floor Gallery, Bucharest)
1998 – Una Bisanzio latina – arte romena degli anni Novanta (Bramante Gallery, Rome)
1996 – Experiment (3/4 Floor Gallery, Bucharest)
1994 – Prolog (Romanian Cultural Institute, Venice); Romanian Contemporary Art (National Museum of Art, Bucharest); The Pillar (Catacomba Gallery, Bucharest) 
1993 – Byzantium after Byzantium (Romanian Cultural Institute, Venice); 010101… (Museum of Romanian Peasant, Bucharest)
1990 – The French National Assambly (Vaison la Romaine, France)
1986 – Prolog (Bucharest)
1984 – Thresholds (Centre National d’Art Contemporain George Pompidou, Paris)
1983 – The Place – Fact and Metaphor (Folk Art Museum, Bucharest)
1982 – Place, Deed and Metaphor (Village Museum, Bucharest)
1981 – Prolog (Simeza Gallery, Bucharest – first exhibition of the “Prolog” artistic group)
1980 – Venice Biennale, Romanian Pavilion (Hill IV series); Contemporary Art from National Collections (Centre National d’Art Contemporain George Pompidou, Paris); The Writing, (Institute of Architecture Ion Mincu, Bucharest); Hill V (Riverside Studios & House Gallery, London); Liverpool Academy of Art (Liverpool); The Polytechnic Art Gallery (Newcastle upon Tyne)
1979 – Painters from the East (Łódź, Szczecin)
1978 – Venice Biennale, Romanian Pavilion (Hill V series); Studiul I/Study I (Bastion Gallery, Timișoara) 
1974 – New Problems of the Image (Atelier 35, Bucharest)
1971 – Romanian Art Today (Richard Demarco Gallery, Edinburgh); Sigi Kraus Gallery (London); Compass Gallery (Glasgow); Youth Biennale (Paris)
1970 – Strategy: Get Arts (Richard Demarco Gallery & Kunsthalle Düsseldorf; Europe Gallery, Bruxelles)
1969 – 8 Romanian Artists (Hague, Torino, Edinburgh, Titograd, Szczecin); Grup Trei (Galeria Apollo, Bucharest)
1968 – 6 Romanian Painters (Galerie Lambert, Paris)
1965 – Cenacle of Youth of The Union of Artists (Calea Victoriei 133 & Ateneul Tineretului/Atheneum of Youth, Bucharest – debut)


1971 – “François Stahly” Prize awarded for the artwork Essay on Space/Iconography after Knowledge, Youth Biennale (Paris)
1972 – Arta Magazine Award for the solo show Hill I at Simeza Gallery in Bucharest 
1978 – The Romanian Academy Prize for painting “Ion Andreescu”  
1982 – The Grand Prize of The Romanian Union of Artists (U.A.P.)
1994 – The Prize of The Romanian Cultural Foundation
1995 – “Apostu” Grand Prize awarded by The “George Apostu” International Centre of Art and Culture in Bacau
1997 – Pontifical Medal awarded by Pope John Paul II
2000 – Grand Cross for Cultural Merit

Bibliography (selection):

Magda Radu, Anca Oroveanu (coord.), Horia Bernea. Caiete/Notebooks 1969-1976, National Museum of Contemporary Art, Bucharest, 2016 
Doina Mândru (coord.), Orizontul Bernea. Desen și pictură din colecția dr. Sorin Costina (catalogue of the exhibition at Centrul Cultural “Palatele Brâncovenești”, Mogoșoaia, May-June 2014), Centrul Cultural “Palatele Brâncovenești”, București, 2014
Magda Radu, “ <<What We Think About the Object is Far More Important Than Its Making>>: Some Notes on Horia Berna’s Early Works”, ArtMargins, Vol 2, Issue 3, 2013
Celia Ghyka (coord.), Horia Bernea. La réconciliation avec l’image, Luxembourg & Bucharest, 2009
Horia Bernea, 70 de ani, 70 de pagini. Texte și desene încă neprivite, Ed. Martor, Bucharest, 2008
Anca Oroveanu, Rememorare și uitare: scrieri de istorie a artei, Ed. Humanitas, Bucharest, 2005 
Irina Nicolau, Carmen Huluță (coord.), Câteva gânduri despre muzeu, cantități, materialități și incrucișare, Ed. LiterNet, Bucharest, 2003 (online publication https://editura.liternet.ro/descarcare/48/pdf/Horia-Bernea-Irina-Nicolau-Carmen-Huluta/Cateva-ganduri-despre-muzeu-cantitati-materialitate-si-incrucisare-Dosar-sentimental.html)
Horia Bernea, Teodor Baconski, Roma Caput Mundi, Ed. Humanitas, Bucharest, 2000
Coriolan Babeti, Prologo, Istituto Romeno di Cultura e Ricerca Umanistica, Venice, 1994
Theodor Enescu, Sorin Dumitrescu, Călin Dan, Andrei Pleșu, Horia Bernea, Galeria 3/4 and Galeria Catacomba, Bucharest, 1994
Alexandru Cebuc, Theodor Enescu, Andrei Plesu, Horia Bernea, National Museum of Art, 1985
Vasile Florea, Arta romaneasca moderna si contemporana, Bucharest, Meridiane, 1982
Theodor Enescu, Paul Overy, Horia Bernea’s Paintings: 1975-1980, Academy of Art, Liverpool and Polytechnic Gallery, Newcastle upon Tyne, 1980
Mihai Sin, Nicolae Steinhadt, Horia Bernea, Riverside Studios, London, 1980
Colin Mayler, Genesis B. Orridge, Dictionary of contemporary artists, St. James Press, London, 1977
Octavian Barbosa, Dicționarul artiștilor români contemporani, Bucharest, Meridiane, 1976
Peter Diamand, Richard Demarco, Anna Christina Atanasiu-Condinescu, Cordelia Oliver, Romanian Art Today, Richard Demarco Gallery, Edinburgh, 1971