Nicu Ilfoveanu belongs to the first generation of students to graduate from the Photography and Video Department of the National University of Arts in Bucharest.
He began exhibiting shortly after he graduated from high-school in 1994. He is skilled in both photography and video, black and-white photography being his preference, until 2006 when he started to work with colour photography and is currently focusing on it.
” Nicu Ilfoveanu runs the risk of dealing with landscapes in many of his series; in some cases he even runs the risk of revealing its idyllic dimension / idealism (…). He does it with elegance and refinement,” Cosmin Moldovan
”Marta Jecu: Many of your projects are shot in the Romanian countryside. How do you relate to it and what was your approach in these projects?
Nicu Ilfoveanu: There is a common thing for my generation in Romania, to have grandparents in the countryside. Well, I didn’t. But, while I was still a pupil in junior school, my parents bought a summer house, thus I became half peasant, during the holidays. So the relationship with the countryside in my later artistic approach, began for me as a sort of forgotten or, better said, missed childhood, having the sensation of a ‘missed belonging’. One of my first photography series after finishing art studies was entitled Domestic Pictures, and it consists of pictures I took of people without any artistic motivation during long walks in search of landscapes – nature per se. Years later, when I revisited the negatives, I realised that those people I met, and not the beautiful landscapes, were the true impulse in my wanderings – those are unchanged anyway.
M.J.: Why did you decide to work on the two characters Gigi and Valerică?
N.I.: Actually I didn’t decide myself – it was them coming to me knowing I’m a ‘picture-taker’, so I took their pictures.
M.J.: How do you view the relationship you established with them?
N.I.: While it’s about them deciding when we shall have the photo session, all I have to do is to be prepared, which is not so simple, because they come whenever they want the only thing I’m sure about is their unavoidable arrival. They come and I, trained in the artistic field and spoiled by it, recognise in them characters from the history of visual arts. And, since they never ask to see the result, their picture, our relationship is suddenly staged by acting photographically in its purest sense. There is something about this term: ‘taking’ or ‘making’ pictures. I like to say I’m ‘giving’ pictures, which is much more what I’m doing with Gigi and Valerică.
M.J.: What attracted you in the archive of the MTR, and especially in the periods before and during communism, that you wanted to explore?
N.I.: As a matter of fact, it is the lack of difference between these periods you’ve mentioned, which attracts me in this particular archive. Rurality is not necessarily changed at the level of the image with the advance of the so-called communist age. Rural people simply follow their own path, whereas alteration comes from the centre, that is to say from urban life. To digress: in December 1989 when the Revolution was announced on the national TV station, my parents and I were in the countryside. Almost jumping the fence we rushed into our neighbour’s courtyard to watch the TV (we didn’t have one at that time). Well, they were just sacrificing a Christmas pig (a ritual in Romania), therefore our neighbours said they would come to watch the news as soon as the fat pig was finished. So, for them, ‘the change’ of the revolution had to wait – winter provisions came first.” – Marta Jecu, Q&A to Nicu Ilfoveanu
Active in the field of photography, film and photo-books, Nicu Ilfoveanu is credited with a particular position in Romanian contemporary arts. He graduated from the National University of Arts Bucharest, where he is currently teaching photography.
His work is characterised by an unexpected and unpredictable interplay between personal and documentary, between sublime and trivial, between evidence and hidden‑subjects.
Recent activity includes solo shows for Posibila Gallery (Phantom Inventory, 2022), Galería Mecànic, Barcelona (Electro+, 2018), Mois de la Photo du Grand Paris 2017 (Valerica Bienheureux), Uqbar Project Space, Berlin (Series. Multiples, Realisms, 2014); Arsenal Gallery, Poznan (The Mistaken Present Tense, 2013) and group shows: Ways of Recalling, SwitchLab Bucharest (2022),Crossing the Same Circumstances, Kommunale Galerie Berlin (2021), Enchanting Views, CIVA, Bruxelles (2020), Mesuras, Cerezales Antonino y Cinia Foundation, Leon (2019), Looking Back, Thinking Further, Musee de Beaux Arts Tournai (2019), The Factory of Facts and Other Unspoken Stories, Salonul de proiecte, Bucharest (2016); Vision of a Nation, Fotogalleriet Oslo (2014), Reflection Center for Suspended Histories. An Attempt, the 55th International Art Exhibition – La Biennale di Venezia (2013); 4th Fotofestival, The Eye is a Lonely Hunter, Mannheim /Heidelberg / Ludwigshafen(2011).
2021 Phantom Inventory, Galeria Posibilă, București
2021 Panorama, Galeria Artep, Iași
2018 Mon Exile, Galeria Posibilă, București
2018 ELECTRO+ redoux, Mecanic, Barcelona
2017 Valerică Bienheureux, Mois de la Photo Paris
2014 Series. Multiples. Realisms., Uqbar Project Space, Berlin, Germany
2014 Working title 1: Valerică – Eau de Vie , Working title 2: Jurgis Lemaire vs Christophe Baltrusaitis, Anca Poterașu Gallery, Bucharest, Romania
2013 The Mistaken Present Tense, Arsenal Gallery, Poznan, Poland
2013 The Present as a misunderstanding, Wozownia Gallery, Torun, Poland
2012 Series. Multiples. Realisms., The Peasant Museum, Bucharest, Romania
2012 Odnalezieni i Utraceni, Miedzynarodowe Centrum Kultury, Krakow, Poland
2010 Commission!, Centre for Visual Introspection, Bucharest, Romania
2009 Steampunk Autochrome, The Contemporary Art Gallery, Sibiu, Romania
2007 BOX-TENGOR, Galeria Posibila, Bucharest, Romania
2007 Radesti-Stefanesti Arges 1996 si Chicago-loop 2006, Galeria Posibila, Bucharest, Romania
2005 Tourist you are the terrorist, Galeria Posibila, Bucharest, Romania
2004 New Pins for Gramophone, Galeria Posibila, Bucharest, Romania
2002 Domestik Pictures, Galeria ArTei, Bucharest, Romania
2002 Marlene die Trich, Tranzit Foundation, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
2022 ways of Recalling, SwitchLab, București
2021 Posibil, Sigur, Galeria LABORNA, București
2020 Enchanting Views, CIVA, Bruxelles
2019 Overimpressions, Cosmopolis Program, Centre Pompidou, Paris
2019 Looking Back, Thinking Further, Musée des Beaux-Arts de Tournai
2019 Mesuras, Fundación Cerezales Antonino y Cinia, Leon
2018 Remembering Landscape, MNAC, București
2016 The Factory of Facts and Other (Unspoken) Storie, Salonul de proiecte, Bucharest, Romania
2014 Vision of a Nation, Fotogalleriet, Oslo, Norway
2014 Enchanting Views, MNAC – Dalles Hall, Bucharest, Romania
2014 The Forgotten Pioneer Movement, District Kunst-und Kulturförderung, Berlin, Germany
2014 WHAT ABOUT Y[OUR] MEMORY, MNAC Bucharest, Romania
2014 Învățământul artistic bucureștean și arta românescă după 1950, MNAC Bucharest, Romania
2013 Reflection Center for Suspended Histories. An Attempt, 55th International Art Exhibition of La Biennale di Venezia, Italy
2013 The limits of technique after the fasteco age, Atelier 030202, Bucharest, Romania
2012 Loc pentru foto, Club Electroputere Bucharest, Romania
2012 Plug to Nature, Project Danube Connection. Story and Glory, ICR, Karlsplatz, Vienna, Austria
2012 Picturesque – Avant Cronique, Anca Poterașu Gallery, Bucharest, Romania
2011 4th FOTO-FESTIVAL, Manneim/ Heidelberg/ Ludwigshafen, Germany
2010 PhotoEspana, OpenPHoto section, Cuenca, Spain
2010 Micile iluzii, Galeria Laika, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
2010 European Central Bank Annual Photography Award, MNAC, Bucharest, Romania
2010 Police the Police, META Biennial, Bucharest, Romania
2010 Mostra, UnaGallery, Bucharest, Romania
2009 VoxBox, University of Plymouth, United Kingdom
2008 RoArchive, Karlin Studios, Prague, Czech Republic
2008 European Eyes on Japan, Modern Art Museum Kagoshima, Japan
2008 De Romania, Galeria Canem, Spain
2008 Loop, Bad Gallery, Beijing, China
2007 Inbetweens, CM San Michele in Ripa, Rome, Italy
2007 OverEXposures, Museum of Art, Timisoara, Romania
2007 Bologna Arte Fiera (with Galeria Posibila), Bologna, Italy
2006 SEKUNDEN VOM DER UNGLUCK II, Galerie Centrum, Graz, Austria
2005 Clipe de cosmar, Galeria Atas, Cluj-Napoca, Romania
2004 Roumanie.exe, ESCO FOUND, Paris, France
2004 The Biennial of Young Artists Bucharest, 1st edition, META, Bucharest, Romania
2003 Bucuresti – Bucuresti via Beograd, Remont Gallery, Belgrad, Serbia
2002 Littman & White Galleries, Portland, United States of America
2008 Passato Prossimo, UnaGaleria, Bucharest, Romania
2002 Almost plastik ’cause it’s funatastik, Galeria GALERIA, Bucharest, Romania
2002 Beograd – Beograd via Bucharest, Galeria GALERIA, Bucharest, Romania
2002 Colectia iarna / primavara, Galeria GALERIA, Bucharest, Romania
2022 Neale Azbuirătoare (DoP)
2017 Valea Jiului – Notes (DoP)
2013 Matei, copil miner. (DoP)
2013 Film Postale
2012 DELTA 3
2008 And Bob’s Your Uncle
2003 Ed ora raccomanda l’anima a dio
1998 It’s full up, daddy!
2014 Best Romanian Artbook Award, Bucharest, Romania
2012 Best Romanian Artbook Award, Bucharest, Romania
2009 European Central Bank Annual Photography Award for Romania- First Prize
2006 Multimedia Prize – Uniunea Artistilor Plastici, Bucharest, Romania
2005 Art35 Photo Prize, Bucharest, Romania
2022 Oberhausen Film Festival
2019 Europalia, Bruxelles
2018 BIEFF, București
2017 Art Encounters, Timișoara
2017 Oberhausen Film Festival
2017 Rencontres Internationales Paris
2016 Lecția naturii, Bucharest Art Week
2016 VOLTA 12 Basel, Switzerland (with Anca Poterasu Gallery)
2016 Artissima, Torino, Italy (with Anca Poterasu Gallery)
2014 ViennaFAIR. The New Contemporary, Vienna, Austria (with Anca Poterasu Gallery)
2013 Centrul de reflecție pentru istorii suspendate, O încercare., the 55th Venice Biennale
2012 Contemporary Istanbul, Istanbul, Turkey (with Anca Poterasu Gallery)
2011 FotoFestival, Mannheim-Ludwigshafen-Heidelberg, Germania
2010 Police the Police, META Biennale, București
2010 Videozone V, Tel-Aviv, Israel
2009 TIFF, Cluj-Napoca
2009 Noaptea Muzeelor si Noaptea Galeriilor, București
2008 “Interventii 3”, Chisinau
2007 “Spazi Aperti”, Roma
2006 ViennaFAIR. The New Contemporary, Vienna, Austria (with Galeria Posibila)
2021 L’Achevé Imprimé
2018 Când ne-am fotografiat.
2018 Bâlci. Călătorie în centrul lumii.
2017 Eau de Vie
2016 O amintire făcută bine
2014 Vederi Încântătoare
2014 Serii. Multiplii. Realisme. / Series. Multiples. Realisms.
2011 Găsiți și pierduți / Found and Lost
2007 Petite Histoire
2007 SteamPunk Autochrome