(Born in Craiova- 18 Nov 1906). Romanian painter. He initially studied literature and philosophy at the University of Bucharest, at the same time attending the Academy of Fine Arts (1926–30). He continued to study painting at the Academy of Fine Arts in Iasi (1934–8), where he was taught by Nicolae Tonitza, but he did not follow Tonitza’s decorative style; his work showed the influence of Gheorghe Petrascu and of 17th- and 18th-century Spanish painting. As with other Romanian painters of the period, Baba was attracted to the rural world, which he represented in a personal manner that owed little to his immediate predecessors, although in his solidly constructed volumes he worked in the tradition of Cézanne. In his representation of peasants he was not concerned with the picturesque; in this respect he stood apart from the ‘militant art’ of the Socialist Realists and avoided the constraints of official ideology. Initially this stance did not prevent him from receiving official recognition. However, the authorities were less enamored of the expressionism that characterized Baba’s later paintings. In these the figures are often depicted in states of desperation and alienation. This new concentration on the condition of the subject was accompanied by a change of style, with the solidity of form that he had learnt from Cézanne giving way to a version of tenebrism. The themes also changed; for example in depicting peasants Baba was now intent on reflecting their inner drama, which could take the form of horror, resignation or madness: the common factor was the absence of hope. The Mad King cycle, which has echoes of Goya, is representative of this period of creativity, as are the late portraits of contemporaries, self-portraits, Venetian landscapes, harlequins and still-lives. From 1946 Baba taught painting at the Institute of Fine Arts in Iasi, and from 1958 at the Fine Arts School in Bucharest.
Corneliu Baba's works