Aurel Cojan 1914-2005


Birth of Aurel Cojan in Beceni in Romania.


Begins studies in law and architecture under pressure from his parents, which he soon abandons to devote himself exclusively to painting. Spends several months at the Bucharest Art Academy, experience which, he said, did him “more harm than good”.


Solo exhibitions of Cojan at the Hassefer Gallery and in the halls of the Romanian Atheneum. Then, for a period of fifteen years, all exhibitions are forbidden to him.


Thanks to a relative opening of the regime, Cojan is able to participate in several exhibitions abroad. Among others the Sao Paulo Biennal in 1967 where about fifty of his drawings are exhibited in the Romanian Pavillon.


On the occasion of an important international homage to Brancusi organized in Bucharest, more than sixty paintings by Cojan are exhibited. Laudatory articles in the press. Despite this beginning of recognition and frequent State acquisitions, Cojan decides to leave Romania.


Settles in Paris where the artist is to live until his death. He requests political asylum, which he is granted. The early days are difficult and he first of all survives thanks to the help of the Secours Catholique and then as a guardian in museums and libraries.
Wandering around Paris, he delights in the atmosphere and the uncontrolled verve of the streets, that inspire him to paint street scenes, portraits and urban landscapes.


First Parisian exhibition at the Artemon Gallery.

Late 1970’s and early 1980’s

Exhibitions at the Charles Chevalier Gallery, Raph Gallery, Jacques Barbier Gallery and Francois Mitaine Gallery in Paris. Also takes part in the group exhibitions “Comparaisons”, “Réalités nouvelles”, “Salon de Villeparisis” and a museum exhibition at the Museum of Clermont Ferrand.


Cojan is knighted by the French Minister of Culture and receives the “Chevalier des Arts et des Lettres”.


Solo exhibition at the Barbier-Beltz Gallery, Paris


Solo exhibition at the Barbier-Beltz Gallery, Paris and very important article in the leading French art magazine “Beaux-Arts Magazine” entitled “The extraordinary youthfulness of Aurel Cojan”.


At an age of 81 Cojan is awarded the “Prix de la Jeune Peinture” (Prize for up and coming artist) by the leading French art magazine, Beaux-Arts Magazine.


Beginning of an exclusive collaboration (that will last until the artist’s death) with the Alain Margaron Gallery, Paris. This collaboration will lead to numerous solo exhibitions (1998, 2004, 2005, 2006 and 2007) and the publishing of books about the artist.


Solo exhibition at the Romanian Cultural Centre in Paris.


“The 90th Anniversary of Aurel Cojan” – Solo exhibition at the Museum of the Cultural Ministry of Bucharest, Romania and restrospective exhibition at the Alain Margaron Gallery, Paris.


The artist dies at the age of 91 in Paris.


Éric Suchère, “L’effroyable jeunesse d’Aurel Cojan”,  in Beaux-Arts Magazine 1995: “From rough to smooth, from slaps to caresses, all imaginable textures, all the different ways of impressing color on a surface are used. Colors that struggle amongst themselves, against the canvas, that rub together and clash against each other to the point of dizziness. This blowing apart of the internal structure of a painting could be compared with the idea of the “current of consciousness” in Joyce’s texts, where it is a question of bringing together, in one same character, a whole group of auditive, olfactive and visual sensations and showing how they disturb the thought process. With Aurel Cojan, the receptor is the canvas, the sensations are transmitted through color. If his painting seems discreet, it is however of an extreme violence, comparable not to murmur but to a thousand screams rending forth at the same time”.

“Aurel Cojan sort de l’ombre”, L’Oeil no. 499, September 1998: “If Cojan’s paintings sometimes take on an abstract appearance, reality is always there, beneath the surface, and the artist only cultivates haziness with a poetic intention, delivering up a world that is physical, if impalpable”.

Manuel Jover, “Homage to Aurel Cojan”, Connaissance des Arts, no. 636, March 2006: “The gallery director Alain Margaron renders homage to him in an exhibition of fifty works. Cojan is a painter who it is impossible to classify, both figurative and abstract at the same time, partly linked to the School of Paris, partly engaged in a quest for a pictorial freedom whose sparks, lashings-out, and dry viciousness or veiled melancholy are not easily forgotten”.

Emmanuel Daydé, “Aurel Cojan – A stroll in the air”, Edition Alain Margaron: ““We see nothing” Daniel Arasse was in the habit of saying in front of paintings. And he demonstrated this by describing them so meticulously as to prove just how little we really see of what a painting has to show us. Of course, they were for the most part works from the Renaissance, not the most facile in terms of interpretation as we know, and whose distance in time favors the most surprising and contradictory hypotheses. The work of Aurel Cojan, if strongly anchored in the 20th century, seems paradoxically to lend itself to the same kind of blindness.
What do we see when we look at a work by Cojan? Nothing, most of the time, if not seemingly haphazard splashes or paint-marks, in the midst of a watery paleness or oily scratchings.
And yet: nothing, really? For Cojan, a classical artist if ever there was one, in his strict obedience to the usual themes of painting, only ever painted like the Renaissance artists – portraits, nudes, group scenes (that he entitled “Street scenes”), landscapes and still-lives. Yet it is certain that amongst his works are a number of enigmatic paintings and drawings that seem to be purely abstract. The term “impure” abstraction might be more appropriate, for within these lyrical overflowings one can glimpse numbers, lines or frame-works, so many traces of a figuration past or yet to come. Perhaps we should rather accuse our eye of not knowing how to decipher them in their ghost-like forms. For that matter, it is easy to confuse a nude by the artist with one of his landscapes, or again an indoor scene with an outdoor view. Thus I remember a painting that the old painter brought along, with the vague title of Colored Interior, that was renamed in his presence, with his amused consent, under the more evocative title of A Sunday at the Countryside. Yet if he displayed a lack of interest in naming things, Cojan affirmed a passion for describing them visually. The nothing he expresses is not nothing. Perhaps we should, like the subtle philosopher Vladimir Jankelevitch, rather talk of an “almost nothing”? Covered over as if by a blind, saturated with barely visible and almost undecipherable marks, Aurel Cojan’s Almost-nothing appears to us in a sort of cloud of unknowing: “Timid and fugitive light, a lightning flash, silence, evasive signs”, declares Jankelevitch, “these are the forms through which the most important things in life choose to make themselves known”.