Welcome to an installment of Modern Masters, a curated segment on Creative Fluff where we explore lesser known contemporary artists that have truly mastered their craft. We spotlight these artists to give them the recognition and exposure they deserve. Sit back, relax, and we hope you enjoy their work.
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The first thought that hits me as I sit down to write this is…well, what can I say? How can I put into words just how much I like this artist? How can I make you, the readers, see what I’m seeing right now? I’m not a writer; I just know how to spell. I don’t possess the eloquence required to put down abstract feelings. Hell, how many years has it been since I even had feelings? And right now I got a whole bunch of them. It’s like this mix between awe, gratitude and something else that I can’t place. Yeah, it’s a bit like…a bit like respect. Guys, I think I RESPECT somebody.
And I want you to meet them.
Manuro, or Marian Capraru, is a self-employed artisan from Romania whose talent lies in just about everything that he touches. He could be considered a ‘self-taught’ artist, but he doesn’t believe that such a thing exists. I’ll simply say that he’s received no formal education in art. Instead, the amazing artist you see today is the result of a long progression of work and perseverance, bolstered by the support and encouragement of those around him.
Manuro attributes his creative spirit to this father, who was a fighter pilot and made silver jewellery and replicas of planes. Inspired by this and filled with a desire to make his own pieces, Manuro began experimenting by creating various decorative objects around his home.
Later, he transferred from carving in plywood and veneer to more ornamental and substantial woods and was ready to branch out as a professional craftsman. In a tragic and dramatic twist that set my heart aflutter, Manuro informed me that during the Communist regime people were forbidden from selling artwork unless they had permission from a Commission of consecrated artists. Getting this permissive go-ahead was also incredibly difficult if one didn’t have official training in the field.
Fortunately, Manuro won out and eventually was able to sell his work, but his main source of income at that time came from a job carving tombstones and monuments. That would explain where he learnt how to carve marble, as if he isn’t winning everything else already.
It was carving three hundred letters a day with a hammer and chisel that led him to pursue something more relaxing and enjoyable. As he already had experience with working on metals, he chose to do something intricate.
“I grabbed the jewels.” – Marian Capraru
When he could, he would buy antique coins and trinkets, and melt them down to make jewelry and ornaments. Unfortunately, this wasn’t cheap, and so Manuro turned to working with the material by which I was first drawn to him. Bone.
Not only is bone traditional, as in dawn-of-man traditional, but it’s also so rarely used by current artists now that we have so many new ways of creating art. It’s a pity that as we open up these new avenues of technical artistry, we turn away from traditional and archaic crafts, especially when those old methods produce such wonderful results.
I believe that the skeleton is the most beautiful expression of a human being. If you were to strip away all the skin and flesh and blood – if you were to strip away all the ugliness of living creatures – only perfection will remain. Bone is a wonderful material, smooth to the touch and unyielding in its natural beauty. I hadn’t ever considered you could actually improve on how aesthetically pleasing it can be, but a mixture of intricate details, soft and luxurious classical designs, and a steady and inspiring hand make Manuro’s carvings into priceless treasures.
“I’m never fully satisfied with my products because I know I can do much better. This is the ideal and general condition of the progress of an artist.”
I mentioned that Manuro doesn’t believe in being ‘self-taught’. He believes that every artist has received their training from countless previous generations, and all styles, shapes and expressions are a combined effort of every artist that came before now. He believes that teaching, as he has been taught, is an important and integral part of being an artist.
In an effort to support this, Manuro offers everything posted on his gallery page for personal or commercial use, without the need for written permission. He’s set aside his ego to encourage other aspiring artists, and I don’t think I’ve ever seen such a perfect example of someone creating art for art’s sake.
“The principle is to let others learn from you as you have learned from others before you, and in this way your work will turn into something more beautiful and more valuable to future generations.
I’m just a small link in a chain I cannot break through.”
I don’t often come across an artist of this calibre. It’s not just the end products that I’m in awe of; it’s the man himself who makes them. It’s the process he goes through, that he’s been through. It’s the full god-damn package. Like a Romanian box of chocolates, the more I try to pull out of Manuro, the more I find. This guy does it all. He paints, he shapes, he constructs. He takes photographs, he’s made videos. Hell, he even carved tombstones – and he does it all with style, humility, and talent.
Marian Capraru is the real deal.
Watch Manuro at work
Check out his photography
View his extensive gallery
Contact the artist directly