The works of Romanian artist Calin Alupi (1906–1988) remain sought after as representative of Romanian post-impressionism in contemporary art. His most critically acclaimed works were done in pastel and oil.
Calinic "Calin" Alupi was born on July 20, 1906, in the small village of Vancicauti, Hotin Department, Bessarabia (eventually to become part of the USSR). His parents, Teodoro and Antonina, were farmers. Tragically, Alupi lost his father in 1917 when Teodoro died in Galicia while fighting as a soldier of the Russian Imperial Army during World War I.
Headed to School
In 1919 Alupi seized the opportunity to begin studying at a school in Sendriceni-Dorohoi. Drawing, taught by painter Nicolae Popovici Lespezi, quickly became one of the young teen's favorite subjects. After six years at the school his passion for art and his promise as an artist grew, and in 1925 the 19-year-old Alupi became a student at the Fine Arts Academy of Iasi, Romania. Among his teachers were folk artist Stefan Dimitrescu, who taught painting, and Jean Cosmovici, who taught drawing. To pay his way, Alupi worked in the school library, but still met with early success as an aspiring artist, winning both the academy's Schiller grant and its Grigorovici prize. Between 1925 and 1926 Alupi was a student at the Officer of the Reserve School in Bacau.
Alupi graduated from the Fine Arts Academy in 1932 with high honors in painting. By the following year he was exhibiting his work at an official show of Moldavian art staged in Iasi (Moldavia was a principality of Romania at that time), and by 1934 he was holding his first personal exhibition in Iasi.
From Art Student to Professional Artist
In 1935 Alupi found a job as a teacher in the drawing and calligraphy department of his old school at Sendriceni-Dorohoi. He worked there for a year, then returned to Iasi to show his work at local exhibitions. It was from this point forward that Alupi began painting under the tutelage of Nicolae Tonitza and other locally renowned artists at the Durau Monastery. The monastery, located at the foot of Ceahlau Mountain in the Romanian Carpathian Mountains, was home to hermits, monks, and nuns and provided a quiet and beautiful space for Alupi to continue developing his artistic style. The region is now a nature preserve.
An important art show took place in 1938 in Bucharest, and Alupi exhibited there at the city's Dalles Hall along with several other notable local artists. The Bucharest Arts and Literature Review printed a favorable critique of his work, leading to increased exposure for the artist. The following year he participated in the official art exhibit of Moldavia, which was staged in Iasi.
War Arrived, but Art Continued
At the beginning of World War II Alupi, like many of his friends and colleagues, was sent to the front lines to fight. He spent his entire tour of duty, which lasted until 1944, at the front as a lieutenant. The army capitalized on Alupi's well-known skill and put him in charge of drawing maps of enemy positions. He would later receive the Order of the Romanian Crown and the country's prestigious Military Virtue ribbon for his service.
After leaving the Russian army, Alupi created more pieces for a large painting and sculpture showcase in Bucharest. Another Bucharest exhibit followed in 1946, and in 1947 he became an assistant in the drawing department of the Fine Arts Academy. Popular with the students and a talented teacher, Alupi received a promotion to professor within the year.
Married and Continued Teaching and Showing
After taking part in two key shows in 1948, one in Bucharest and the other in Iasi, Alupi married Sanda Constantinescu Ballif. They had their only daughter, Antonina, in 1950. Meanwhile, he had become an instructor at the school of Plastic Art in Iasi. Despite the new demands of fatherhood, Alupi's showings at local art exhibitions continued at a steady pace throughout the 1950s and 1960s, and art fans came from around Europe to see his shows in Bucharest, Sofia, Iasi, and Varsovia. In 1954 the Plastic Art School rewarded his increasing notoriety with a promotion to full professor.
Alupi began working at the Pedagogical Institute in Iasi at some point during the 1960s, and he was reported to have been promoted to painting teacher at the school in 1968. In 1971, for perhaps the first time, Alupi exhibited his work outside Romania, staging personal shows in Trieste and Roma, Italy. He also showed in Paris in 1972 and 1973. Then, on February 19, 1975, the National Museum of Romania threw what it called an "homage party" for the artist.
A Decade Filled with Work and Honors
For the last ten years of his life Alupi continued to create new art and maintained a steady schedule of exhibitions and shows in both Romania and France. In 1978 his country's national art museum staged a retrospective of his work and honored Alupi with another gala. According to records, his last shows were held in 1986 in Iasi.
Alupi died at age 82 on September 19, 1988. He was buried in Iasi's Eternitate Cemetery. His daughter Antonina became a respected artist in her own right. She escaped from communist Romania on foot in 1972, fled to France, and went on to become a teacher like her father.
"Calin Alupi," Artists Online Web site,http://artistsonline.biz/ (December 31, 2003).
"Calin Alupi," Atelier Alupi Web site,http://www.atelieralupi.com/ (January 1, 2004).
Cultural Pastoral Center St. Daniil the Hermit Web site,http://www.ccpdurau.go.ro/ (January 1, 2004).