Local artist set to unveil Art of Ideas Gallery

Time finally arrives for Zamfirescu to share his vision

  • Music & Arts   Wednesday, May 11, 2022   Matt Harris

By Matt Harris
After a long journey that covered a winding path from Eastern Europe to London to Toronto and finally St. Marys, Eugen-Florin Zamfirescu has finally arrived at his moment.
Zamfirescu, along with his partner Elena Dumitru, will officially open the Art of Ideas Gallery on May 29 for guided tours of his work. That date has been a long time in coming for the man who began his working life as a filmmaker.
“The idea of having a place to show my work came to me when we lived in Toronto, but I never thought I’d have something like this,” Zamfirescu said of the Gallery, which shares space with the home he and Dumitru have at 236 Jones Street East. “We had originally wanted a small house in Stratford with a little place to show my work. We are enchanted by the Theatre and arts scene there. When we were over there looking, we wound up coming to St. Marys to look around because we had some free time before we met with the realtor. At that time, we were living on King Street in Toronto, so when I saw King Street here I turned left and we found the house.”
Once they were able to work out the logistics and make the move to St. Marys, Zamfirescu set about bringing his vision to life. Purchasing the house in 2017 was only the first step – two years of preparing was met by two more years of COVID-19 restrictions. But in all that time, the artist remained patient and kept his eyes on the future.
Which, in a way, helped inspire his work. Some of what Zamfirescu uses in his work has been collected over the years to help create part of the installation – small scales, camera lenses, old microscopes – but then there is the artwork created from his imagination. Paintings that have taken as many as two years to finish adorn the walls, and Zamfirescu takes pleasure in pointing out the pain-staking manner in which they were created. Layer upon layer shapes the vision of great ships, and then they depict Zamfirescu’s vision of the universe and man’s place in it before becoming introspective of man’s struggle for survival and to avoid self-destruction. In his own words, the Gallery is his way of offering enlightenment.
“In ways, I’m trying to illuminate an alternative way to describe our history and what we’ve done,” he said. “I have tried to predict a way out for humanity from this planet … we need imagination and science to work together towards this goal. And I think that maybe what happens here also happens on other planets.”
Through his work Zamfirescu is trying to inspire people to work towards a planet that is free from political boarders, and he offers a vision where he sees humans free from political, socio-economic constraints.
Once the Gallery opens, patrons can sign up for one of two tours held daily: the first at 10:30 a.m. and the second at 2:30 p.m. Visitors have to stay with the guided tour, which lasts between 45-60 minutes, and tour groups are limited to 10 visitors at a time. Admission is $20, and bookings can be arranged through www.artofideasgallery.com on their admission link.
But to finally have a gallery to call his own after the journey he and Dumitru have been on – both of them born in Romania and leaving there after the fall of the Berlin Wall to head to London before moving to Canada in 1996 – gives Zamfirescu a feeling of both peace and excitement.
“I am 63 years old and it took me some time to create and collect this body of work – that takes a lot of patience,” he said. “I had to dream of things to paint and select my subjects, deciding what’s important for humanity to know. I’m trying to describe major ideas for humanity with my work: if I’m going to be spending so much time in front of a painting, it had better be a good idea.”
He thinks back to what life was supposed to be like for him as a filmmaker, but he recognized that the life of an artist better suited his aspirations.
“As a filmmaker, I would have been working with a team doing a lot of productions to come up with a piece of art – I discovered I’m mostly a lonely person, much like a composer,” he said. “I tend to do my best work by myself. As a painter, it’s your own dreams you’re creating and you have the total freedom to express the ideas you have through your art and it is necessary for me to express that through beauty. It can be easier to express something without beauty just by saying, ‘this is what I think’, but it’s harder to go with a visual to decide if something is pleasurable or not.”
What it comes down to for Zamfirescu is far simpler than the techniques he uses to paint: through beauty, stir the mind.
“I hope that through the technique I’m employing that I can first warm the strings from the heart; once that gate has opened, the brain will accept those concepts and ideas even if they sound crazy,” he said. “That’s why we called this place the Art of Ideas Gallery.”