Grotto – Another painting by Daniel Pitin

I bought another painting (my 11th) by the Czech painter, Daniel Pitin, following his recent one-man show at the Hunt Kastner Gallery in Prague.  I haven’t enough wall space at home, so yesterday it was installed at the office (LLP Group).

‘Grotto’ (2015)


It’s a good companion piece to Crystal Landscape, which I bought in September.

‘Crystal Landscape’

cyrstal landscape

You can see more of Daniel’s paintings here.

Daniel Pitin is one of my favourite painters and I’ve been buying his paintings for nearly 16 years. It’s a tempting and short journey of just three metro stops to his studio from my office in Prague. It’s a much longer journey to the Paintbrush Factory in Cluj Napoca in Romania where some of my other favourite painters work or have worked.

Serban Savu

Marius Bercea

Mircea Suciu

Adrian Ghenie

I’ve bought paintings by the first three of these, but Adrian Ghenie’s now sell for stratospheric prices, so it’s too late for me. He’s probably the most successful and well-known young artist from the whole of Central and Eastern Europe. His version of Van Gogh’s Sunflowers sold recently at Sotheby’s in London for more than three million pounds.

‘Sunflowers – 1937’


In case you’re stuck for an idea, a painting by Adrian Ghenie would make a very welcome 60th birthday present next year. Start saving.

Which One? Paintings by Serban Savu.

I’d like to buy another painting by Serban Savu. He’s a Romanian painter who lives in Cluj Napoca in central Transylvania, one of several young painters and sculptors who work together at the Paintbrush Factory, an industrial building that was converted several years ago into a collection of studios, exhibition and performance spaces. It’s well worth a visit. Cluj Napoca is home to one of the most prestigious art schools in the country, indeed in Europe, and many of the best-known painters of Eastern Europe, some of them known globally, began their studies there – Adrian Ghenie, Marius Bercea, Mircea Suciu, and Serban Savu.

I first saw Serban Savu’s work at an exhibition in Prague (2013) called Nightfall, curated by Jane Neal  and I’ve loved his paintings ever since. I visited Cluj two years ago, met Serban and bought a painting – Landscape with Clerk – which now hangs in my apartment in Prague.

I’d like to buy another to hang in LLP Group’s offices. Which of these should I buy (I can’t afford all of them, and in any case there isn’t enough space)?



Live and work in former Communist Eastern Europe and you’ll be familiar with brutal apartment blocks such as this one, crudely built from cheap concrete, and planted without fanfare on a featureless expanse of dirt, a landscape cleared of natural vegetation. For me, perhaps, it has the special appeal of a souvenir. I’ve seen these blocks in Budapest, in Chisinau, in Bucharest, in Kosice and Moscow. I’ve shivered in them in winter, and sweated in them during the summer.

The painting is called Meeting, though it’s actually a number of meetings, some in progress, and some about to happen. Alternatively, it’s one group brought together by the painter, or the dog. It’s a frozen moment, full of possibility, full of character, and beautifully composed. It’s always a test for me to wonder if I can go on looking at a painting for days, weeks, months or years and still be drawn into it. This passes the test.

The Guardian

6 the guardian

This one contains just two elements, a painting by Filippo Lippi (Madonna of Humility) which Serban Savu saw in Milan, and a man who may be its guard, each, for different and obvious reasons, quite unconscious of the other. But as in Meeting what’s important lies in the relationship between the two, the guard dozing in quiet sympathy with the painting, or is he dreaming the painting. And who guards whom?

The Allegory of Painting

11 the allegory of painting

This and The Guardian were shown at Serban Savu’s solo exhibition at the Plan B Gallery in Berlin – Pictures at an Exhibition. I think this shows the main hall of the railway station at Cluj, but I might be mistaken (I spent a hour there attempting to buy a ticket to Budapest before discovering that the line was being repaired and no trains were running). Again, the appeal may be sentimental – I know those halls, those wet tiles, those kiosks selling bright fizzy drinks and biscuits made of powder, and those adverts.

Which one?