new-york

Şerban Savu, New Road, 2011, oil on canvas, 11 7/8 x 15 3/4".

Şerban Savu

David Nolan Gallery

Şerban Savu, New Road, 2011, oil on canvas, 11 7/8 x 15 3/4".

Şerban Savu belongs to a loose-knit group of young Romanian painters based in Cluj-Napoca, a Transylvanian college town some eighty miles from Hungary. His subject is blue-collar work and leisure in contemporary Romania, and he portrays this quotidian reality with cool, masterly restraint. This focus draws on a range of precedents, from Bruegel to Millet—whom he has directly and indirectly invoked. But I always think of Edward Hopper. Like Hopper’s nighthawks and lonely women, Savu’s brick-factory workers and roadside bathers are kept at a strange distance, their bodies frozen in a melancholic stasis. Speaking of his painting Office at Night, 1940, Hopper said, “I hope it will not tell any obvious anecdote, for none is intended.” Savu, too, tends to keep narrative sense at bay.

This show comprised work in two scales. Six paintings hung in the front room, all of them quite

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