Costel Iacob

Costel Iacob

Critical References

Though measurable, time seemed to stand still for Costel Iacob, with him all alone in the face of the world enigmas, in the unraveling of which he set out valiantly and diligently a few decades ago (his 2013 exhibition was called Frozen Time). He reinvented flying objects (let us remember the anticipatory dreams of a Renaissance titan), paradoxically floating pieces, similar to those used by saints in various journeys, lost time clocks, concavities inviting daydreaming, caress or the idea of nest, convexities urging to action, fullness that inextricably remind of the Gordian knot, gaps to catch your breath in astonishment, curves and counter-curves with baroque memories, corrected or even interrupted by straight lines that intersect, meet or part with firmness, according to the paths and an "iron" logic.

These are non-aggressive mechanisms (readymade items with a different use), made or assembled with a goldsmith's delicacies, suspected to be capable of the most amazing performances; it is not the world upside down, but a world from a different perspective, re-created with meticulousness and savvy skills, urging us to ignore the technological revolution to experiment along with the artist, leisurely and for personal use, this new and original type of know-how. –  Dr.  Doina Pauleanu, art critic and Director of the Constanta Art Museum.

Through the seven portraits of clowns (showing as days go by), the Lost Time Clock reminds us of the permanent presence of "temptation", represented by a crank gear (manipulator), which rotates an angel, opposable to a devil (good and evil) and marks our passage through the world. A parable of using time with a purpose to the detriment of its irretrievable loss.  - Costel Iacob.

Costel Iacob seems to be a happy man, with his innocent and sincere childish smile, enjoying a new and shiny toy. In reality, the artist does not look detachedly at the slippage of the society in which he lives, nor at the human destiny. In a state of vindictive anxiety, whose therapy is reflected in his work created with the dilemma of the person who felt the freedom to fly, as a pilot, and to create, as a sculptor, the plastic artist is uncompromising when it comes to his personal works of art, true orchestrations under the influence of order, obsession with detail and well-done work. The art world knows this goldsmith under the fascination of time and knows that his objects are a different proposition on the re-evaluation of form and object, subject to his own existentialist philosophy. The concerns regarding the contemporary individual actual issues are reflected in classical work materials, such as warm and inviting wood, used in compositions related to a certain romantic vibration of the soul; however, the artist uses artistic materials selected from everyday life. Disused consumer goods, such as geographical globes, clocks, etc. used as ready-made forms or apparently ready-made, are decomposed, improved and placed in the desired context, evoking a vision that, from constituent elements turn into a sign language.

Hence, Costel Iacob puts into practice his mentally constructed subjects, the proposed message revealing themes related to truth and human self-awareness, the relationship between good and evil, freedom, social constraints, attachment of the human being towards the transcendent, as a spiral movement in the natural course of evolution. Free from the errors of this world, which he relates to the ephemerality of the biological time and frozen time as a concept of physics, the sculptor reproduces all this using wood, metal and glass mainly in the form of bars, screws, pliers, glass bowls, pieces of bronze, etc. suggesting or representing people, birds, traps, wings, cages...

They have a tense structure, which derives from the mechanical components chaining dynamics in a unit conferring regularities and asymmetries and giving rise to a two-directional plastic vision. One concerns the aesthetic approach in the sense of minimalism of Donald Judd, who used modular overlaps, the other trend being related to the assembly of some elements. With their help, he creates art objects called sculptures by the artist because they are three-dimensional and define volumetric shapes, some of the fragility of jewelry, others of a solid articulation. The simple geometric structures are made of wood and we identify here the abstract tendency of compositions conceived from the smallest constructive unit, the module. This category includes the compositions "The Secret of the Red Nest", "Ascendancy" and "Structural Becoming", where we can see how, with very few plastic language elements, represented by the line of spatial geometries, Costel Iacob creates spaces, boundaries, labyrinths. In the works of art named "The Knot of Life” and "The Cage We Live In", the artist subjects the wood to contortions that acquire the naturalness and softness of the textile thread, which can be easily bent. This work, possessing a Brownian dynamic, conceived from a single duct, carries with it the suggestion of an infinite and labyrinthine route, at the same time with descriptive similarities with the blood circuit network. However, there are things that project man in a different rhythm of time, just as Costel Iacob's "Music" makes us enter the area of a kind of mysticism where the soul vibration and dissolution, the recovery of the self, melancholy, despair find their commonplace. Suggested in the internal space of the composition, a void through which light and sound, without resorting to the undulating phenomenon, pass unhindered, these feelings define the artist's experience and the personal symbiosis with sensitive things.

As a form, the work describes the outline of a musical instrument with strings and consists of the wide open plan, drawn by the border of a wooden line, elegantly evoking an expressive and minimalist form. This allows an imaginary sound inside it, which harmonizes with the light, the reductionist scheme transmitting the visual message directly, a sign that the artist has achieved his aesthetic goal.

Costel Iacob is unique in our artistic space, and his vision emerged as a result of the complete freedom to create that he enjoyed since his student days. In Vladimir Predescu's class, the students were not required to follow a certain pattern, the professor conferring his students the liberty to develop their creative spirit. Costel Iacob added his good technical training in the field of aviation, which formed his patience, skill and dexterity, necessary for assembling works of art, referred to as installations by specialists, which give the impression that they originated in hundreds of years old clocks, at a closer look which recalls the "rococo” sumptuousness and the "art nouveau” delicacy.

But, with the meticulousness of a Sisyphus and the arsenal of mentally visualized ideas, without any prior sketches, Costel Iacob assembles toys for adults, keeping his works under a rigorous control, the pieces being the result of logical thinking, conducted in the artistic area. In their kinetic tendency, some compositions can be moved, rotated, by means of a hand-operated system.

The "Jesters Carousel" with its seven characters, which also represent the days of the week, is such a work of invention. The anthropomorphic figurines are us, the ones who move freely all day, spinning in the vicious circle of destiny, almost imperceptibly changed by an unknown force, the connotation of the crank that determines the rotational movement being manipulation, a suggestion present in the "Clock of Lost Time". dominated by a devil and an angel, symbols of evil and good, extremes between which our existence oscillates and imperceptibly marks our passing against our will. The sculptor also talks about this journey of the human being in the "Travel Machine", an object arrangement with its own dynamics, conceived in the bodice of the same beloved form of the musical instrument. By turning the crank, the globe that we use at school, to better understand the geography of the earth, creates the illusion of a virtual journey and a game apparent to those who want to discover the secrets of the work of Costel Iacob. The edge of the musical instrument displays engraved elements that help the human alive, especially symbols of knowledge related to mathematics, philosophy, astrology, Christian and Masonic symbols, necessary for the perfection of the being. From the spiritual aspects of this world, culminating in the "Pyramid of Faith", on which he styled biblical scenes in bronze, the artist moves on to social and moralizing topics. The "Nest" representing a family living in a golden cage, under a false freedom, a "Bird" teaching its chick to fly, a wooden fable, inspired by "The Cricket and the Ant", by La Fontaine, are designed with the same attention paid to the bases designed together with the work, considered ready to be exposed at the end of the presentation method, which either highlights it or destroys it.

Working on a series of portraits that bring the "generation with headphones" to the forefront, Costel Iacob also touches on the comic area, by placing a hieratic face next to a Jesuit monk, strongly spiritualized, an Orthodox, fed-up, in his biological fullness priest.

His nonconformist sculptures each have a story that sends us a message. Conceived following the recovery of the unconventional or traditional materials, they acquire a new life in the hands of the artist, unconditioned by directions and trends, who confesses׃ “I make these objects because I like it.” - Ana Amelia Dinca, art critic.

Time seems to stand still in Costel Iacob’s works, a vulnerable Sagrada Familia found shelter under a glass bell without a thought for Gaudi, while the Travel Machine – actually, the sounding board of a violin where the pieces necessary for the suggested incursions were placed with tidiness and ultimate order – entices all whom it may concern – connoisseurs, art enthusiasts, daredevils, music lovers, visionaries, explorers, simple or extremely complicated people – to choose the place and the time for embarking on a voyage. The artist has organized with justification and responsibility. Only the bow of a violin virtuoso is now required to leave behind nostalgias and to restore the travellers’ resolute assuranceDoina Pauleanu PhD, art critic and director of the Constanta Art Museum.


Born on April 6, 1952 in Bucharest.

Graduate of the “Nicolae Grigorescu” Institute of Fine Arts, Bucharest – Sculpture Section, class of 1985, the class of Professor Vladimir Predescu. UAP member since 1990.


2013 –Simeza Gallery, Bucharest – “Frozen Time”

1996 – Orizont Gallery, Bucharest


2014 – Biennial of Decorative Arts - Bucharest; Arts in Bucharest, Urban Explorations

1994 – 101 „Wooster Street” Gallery, New York - USA

1993 – „Sallon International d’Art”, Séte – France

1993 – ACADEMIA DI ROMANIA, Roma - Italy

1992 – Saga, Grand Palais, Paris - France; „Moderne Kunst” Gallery, Erlangen – Germany

1990 – „Artistes à la Bastille”

1985 – to date, took part in another 61 important annual exhibitions, from UAP galleries and other galleries


1994 – Scholarship from the “Giorgio Cini” Foundation, Venice, Italy

1999 – ART SALON Award, Bucharest

2001 – ARTUBORG Award, ambient-installations

2001 – UAP Award for Ambient-Installation, ARTUBORG

2014 – Prize for Metal, Biennial for Decorative Arts


2007 – “Structure”, Sibiu

2004 – “Structure”, Bacilly, France

2001 – “Sphere”, ARTUBORG, Bucharest

1995 – “Homage”, Oarba de Mures

Founder of the Sculpture Section and participant in the Visual Art Fair, Bucharest, editions 1998, 1999, 2000.

57 works found in private collections in USA, Italy, France, Cyprus, Sweden, Luxemburg, Germany and another 21 in collections in Romania