Interview by Dr. Vlad Schlezak
Prior to the official collaboration of the SMRUK Art & Medicine Department and the Romanian Doctor-Artists Society I interviewed the new president of the Romanian counterpart. Having had the pleasant experience of exhibiting within this society for the last couple of years I believe that having a chat with its president might be useful for those who want to know more about the early stages and background of my cultural project. Here is the online interview with Dr. Laura Poanta
A Short Description of the society
In the mid sixties there were only few doctors in Cluj performing in various artistic fields. The idea of putting their works together was warmly welcomed by the Institute of Medicine and Pharmacy, who’s Rector at that time was Octavian Fodor, himself a well know art lover collector. The date of the exhibition was correlated with the Institute of Medicine and Pharmacy anniversary, the 5th of December 1996. The exhibition was opened by the Rector, which subsequently set a tradition for many years to come. The first art review was signed by Crisan Mircioiu, who also was very passionate about art, in the local newspaper Faclia. The event was repeated in ’67 and ’68 with the same number of exhibitors but starting with ’69 a more powerful movement began. The number of participants spectacularly grew to 25 (from the initial 8). The artists were very lucky to have the support of the Cluj Art Museum, whose director, Alexandra Rus, accommodated them wholeheartedly. They also had the competent support of Mrs. Livia Dragoi, our curator for many years. The year 1970 marked a new stage. The number of participants grew to 68, and it had become an “exhibition of physicians of Romania”. In 1971 its identity was made more “elegant”, by changing the name into The Romanian Physicians’ Winter Salon. Starting with 1976 the honorary president was the new Rector, Professor Ion Baciu, who manifested the same warm appreciation: “This exhibition includes first-class values, new themes that go beyond mere sensory information and invite meditation…” The color album edited in 1978 is a very important testimonial to these events. Here, an index of 87 names of exhibitors who participated in the 12 successive annual events can be found, with 55 biographical entries including a photo of one of their art exhibits. A new phase started when the organization was handed over to the young doctor Laura Poanta, a well known graphic artist, who edited the color catalog of 2007 and 2008, and who took over the full responsibility of the organization starting with 2008. At the same time, the University, through its Rector, Professor Constantin Ciuce, became the coordinator and sponsor of the exhibition, which made possible the publication of a beautiful retrospective album in 2009.
Laura, share with us your feelings after you took over a medical-art society that has been active for decades?
It is a great honor for me to be in charged with this Exhibition, but also a great challenge, as there is a continuously growing interest around our work, as well as an increasing number of colleagues to join us.
What plans have you got for the future of this society?
There is still work to be done regarding the biographical data of almost 300 physicians who exhibited in the 39 editions of the Salon. We also intend to make this activity known and largely accessible by setting up a web site. It will be like a permanent exhibition, a generous Salon, open to everyone worldwide. When we have all the information – therefore in the, hopefully, near future, we shall also make a Small Dictionary of physicians-painters.
Do you think that the collaboration with The Romanian Medical Society in the UK, Art and Culture Department would put things forward for the society you chair?
Of course, there is always a good thing to show your work outside the Country boundaries, to make connections with artists and physicians all over the world. Maybe, in the future, we will also invite some of your members to be part in one of the Doctor’s Winter Salon
Do you support the idea that art can better your medical profession?
There is no doubt that the affinity for arts (not only painting and sculpture, but also literature and music) springs from the need to keep in touch with the beautiful, “healthy” areas of life. The medical profession is ennobled also by the courage to confront pain day after day, deal with the evil, the imperfection and the hardships of the living. Seen mainly under its diseased forms, the human body sheds its harmony, and we might forget that beauty does not always mean a triumph over the ugly, but it can also be an enduring value despite the horrors and illnesses of man and times. On the other hand, I think we can also talk about complementarities. The art of cure, of alleviating human body’s dysfunctions in the aseptic space of the hospital does not exclude, but implies the admiration for the human body, for the beauty of the landscape or for artistic metaphor. Does not exclude, also, the surrealistic vision, or the burlesque one. Being, in the same time, physician and painter, means to find a balance, to avoid the one-sided point of view and to try the diversity.