Book launch – event at the Senso Gallery

The launch of the bookZenobia, Regina Palmyrei: Roman de calatorii in Siria Antica” (“Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra: A Book of Travels in Ancient Syria”) written by the late art critic Mircea Deac, was the first event of 2016 among the series of cultural and artistic events hosted by  SENSO Gallery. On the 6th of February, the day of the launch, one year had passed from his passage.

Family members (Livia Deac, architect  Radu Deaca,  Mircea Valeriu Deaca PhD, visual artist, professor of film theory and analysis at CESI – the Doctoral School in Image Sciences, the Faculty of Letters, the University of Bucharest), together with colleagues in the trade, personalities of cultural-artistic life, visual artists, art critics, historians, writers, members of the Diplomatic Corps, friends and people close to Mircea Deac, were present for the event. Among them were Mihaela Varga (art historian, editor at Maiko Publishing House), Adrian Mihalache (essay writer, theatre critic, editor of “La Lettre Internationale”), Prof. . Ion Bogdan Lefter, PhD (the Faculty of Letters, the University of Bucharest, author of numerous volumes of poetry and prose, critical studies, most of them following the postmodern literary phenomenon), Ana Maria Negoita (art historian, specialist in Islamic culture), Ioana Ciocan (independent curator, Manager of Art Safari) et al.

Zenobia, Regina Palmyrei – Roman de calatorii in Siria Antica (“Zenobia, Queen of Palmyra – A Book of Travels in Ancient Syria”) is one of the two novels left unpublished while he was alive (the other one is entitled „Concursul” (“The Competition”)) and its main hero is the History of Art professor Traian Manea who is, in fact, the author. Mircea Deac had the occasion to admire Syria’s historic remnants and treasures in the 80s. The illustrations of the book are made by arch. Radu Deaca, the author’s son.

Mircea Deac (Mirea Deaca) was born on the 9th of September 1921 in Oltenita, and dies on the 6th of February 2015 in Bucharest.

He attended the Faculty of Letters and Philosophy, having Tudor Vianu and George Oprescu as teachers, and later the Painting Academy, in the Camil Ressu and Alexandru Ciucurencu workshops.

He was an art history professor at the “Nicolae Grigorescu “Institute of Visual Arts, manager of the Department of Arts and of the National Exhibitions Office within the Ministry of Culture. A member of the Visual Artists’ Union of Romania, an expert in Romanian and European art, a journalist and a writer, the late art critic Mircea Deac was a member of the Union of Professional Journalists in Romania and Vice-President of the Art Collectors’ Society in Romania. He participated in the “Brancusi” symposiums from Paris, Bucharest and Istanbul, and was the organizer of the Romanian exhibitions held at the International Biennials from Paris, Venice, São Paolo, Belgrade. He published more than 1000 articles in the specialized press, studies and articles in France, Greece, Italy, the Netherlands, and wrote the scripts for the films “Brancusi la Targu Jiu” (“Brancusi at Targu Jiu”) and “Alexandru Ciucurencu”. Mircea Deac signed dozens of monographies dedicated to the great Romanian and foreign painters, Art History works, Encyclopaedic Dictionaries, as well as fiction.

The novel gains new force, from the perspective of the recent civil war from Syria. Several monuments, almost all registered in the UNESCO world heritage, are described and analysed by Mircea Deac with the interest of the art historian, as well as with the philosophical <<awe>> of their survival over centuries and millennia, in a territory which has gone from one domination to another, each of them hostile to the preceding one” – noted Mihaela Varga, manager of Maiko Publishing House and editor of the book. „And now, this survival has been ended over the past few years by another war – the war being the social and human even towards which the man Mircea Deac had the most explicitly expressed horror (…). Palmyra, perhaps the strongest symbol for a <<history of glory and of disaster>> is even now, after the passing of Mircea Deac, a place <<shadowed by the blood shed in the sand by empty ambitions>>. The novel dedicated to Zenobia, the mysterious female figure having a charming correspondence in contemporaneity – blends realistic episodes, which capture a Syria of the 80s, with surrealistic episodes, as if inspired by the fascination which the desert exerts upon man, as << a strange calling, some sort of dizziness, as if you were one step from the void of abyss, which unwillingly calls you to its depths. The entire scenery was unusual. Poor, yellow, deserted, hot under the sun, silent. A wilderness owing to its lack of wilderness, because it did, however, have that grand, mysterious, gigantic something, which was, at the same time, fundamentally indifferent.”

This event was held with the support of Catena Group, through the Catena for Art Programme and the Fildas Art Foundation.