(b. 1927, Răchitoasa, Romania) lives and works in Dayton, New Jersey, Fertility Flower, 1973, porcelain, 6.5 x 6 x 5 inches, 93.39.29
Patriciu Mateescu was studying art at the St. Peter and Paul High School in Ploiesti, Romania, when World War II broke out, hitting close to home. In 1946, right after WWII ended and he graduated high school, Mateescu joined the Romanian Communist Party and made a bust of Stalin for the Romanian USSR Embassy—his first public sculpture. From 1946 to 1950 he worked to achieve a Master’s degree in sculpture from the Academy of Fine Arts in Bucharest, Romania. Twelve years of working as an artist later, in 1962 he won the prestigious Gold Medal at the International Ceramic Exposition in Prague, Czechoslovakia. In 1965 Mateescu was elected as the Secretary of the Decorative Arts Section of the Romanian Union of Fine Arts, and in 1968 he was awarded a Romanian Order of Cultural Merit for his contribution to the arts.
In the spring of 1971, under the auspices of the International Academy of Ceramics, the Tennessee Arts Commission pledged its support for the promotion and establishment of the U.S. International Ceramic Symposiums. The Symposium’s mission to help develop a worldwide network of support for ceramic art was achieved by bringing together top ceramic artists from around the world for a month-long sharing of ideas and creation of innovative ceramics.
Mateescu represented Romania at the First U.S. International Ceramic Symposium, which consisted of twenty-five artists from thirteen different countries, and was hosted in the summer of 1973 at the Memphis Academy of Art. While at the Symposium, he created a series of spherical structures that he cast using plaster drain molds and porcelain slip. His series of Fertility Flowers are spheres in which he constructed organically shaped interiors, and his series of “Globular Structures” are multiple spherical forms that he fused together.
Left: Mateescu with work Center: Fertility Flower, 1973, porcelain, 6.75 x 6 x 4 inches, 93.39.28 Right: Mateescu glazing with slip, photo in 1973 catalogue
A few years after participating in the Symposium, Mateescu moved to California at the invitation of art collector John Waller, who set him up with a ceramic workshop. He stayed in California until the mid-1980s when he moved to Dayton, New Jersey, where he still works and resides.
Throughout his career as an artist, Mateescu’s work has always been eclectic and unpredictable. Over the course of his career he has made figurative stoneware sculptures, both geometric and organic porcelain forms, ceramic lamps and chandeliers, ceramic wall murals, miniature diorama-like scenes that take place in ceramic bowls, large ceramic and fiberglass figurative and abstract public sculptures, and paper and thread low relief sculptures. He draws inspiration from Byzantine art, frequently referencing iconographic imagery and gilding forms in gold.
Mateescu has exhibited at numerous cultural institutions nearby where he lived in Romania, California, and New Jersey. Amongst these cities he has also installed over fifteen outdoor monumental works in public places like hospitals, parks, and city squares—his most recent public work being the massive “Flower of Transylvania” installed in Prefecture Square in Bistrita, Romania, in 2016. In addition to the 1973 Memphis Symposium, Mateescu also participated in International Ceramic Symposiums in Beychne, Czhechoslovakia (1966); Gmunden, Austria (1967); Madrid, Spain (1970); Bassano del Grappa, Italy (1971); Medgidia, Romania (1972); Panevezys, Lithuania (2004); and Volos, Greece (2005). His work is in numerous permanent collections, including the Museum of Contemporary Arts in Galatzi, Romania; The National Theatre and the Museum of Contemporary Art in Bucharest, Romania; the Museum of Art in Constantza, Romania; the Royal Museums of Art and History in Brussels, Belgium; the Ariana Museum in Geneva, Switzerland; and the Museum of Decorative Arts in Prague, Czechoslovakia. In 2016 both a monograph of his work and a memoir of his life were published.
By using a basically industrial technique, Patriciu seeks to “make beautifully and more human forms which can be communicated as more associated with people.” He stresses the need for artists to make individual forms but to make many forms by industrial means. He works with slip-cast porcelain. – 1973 International Ceramic Symposium catalogue
Written by Aiden Layer, TN Arts Intern