Young artists in Moldavia

April 2006 -

The AoRTa gallery is located in the Moldavian capital of Chisinau; it is the only centre for modern art in the country. The Dutch photographer Ron Sluik and art historian Irina Grabovan are the curators. In October of 2005, at the behest of the Pedagogical University of Chisinau, they set up a reading program for young photographers. This was the first professional course in art photography in the country . Thriving examples of modern art on the ‘new borders of Europe'?

AoRTa's program is extremely popular among students of different artistic disciplines. Due to the large numbers of visitors, the gallery has been forced to turn students away. Sluik: “In contrast to the generation that preceded them, these promising young artists are ‘free' of communist notions. But their education does not fit in with this change; their professors never get further than Dada.” That is why Sluik is organising guest lectures with foreign artists. "They present a contemporary vision of modern art. This, along with the use of the Internet, is shaping a new generation, whose work reflects the West - or in any event what they think the West is."


Self portrait van Moldavian artist Alexander Tinei

According to Sluik Moldavia still has a long way to go. “The young generation has the desire, but cannot do a lot. Take the language problem: collaboration between students is frequently impossible, because some of them only speak Russian and another group only speaks Romanian. There is an Association of Young Artists, but the chairman studies in Paris. Still there are grounds for optimism: during the last few years the Soros Cultural Centre of Arts in Chisinau has offered some artists foreign study grants; unfortunately these artists never returned. But the young generation sees Moldavia as a place where they can develop.”

Sluik envisions a large role for organisations that focus on Eastern Europe such as the austrian institution Kulturkontakt , that want to invest more in this new European border region. “Let them set up one international cultural authority that supports the artist community by building new exhibition spaces and developing art education. Then young talent will have a reason to return to Moldavia and flourish here.”