Artist Profile

Stefan Bertalan

Portrait of Stefan Bertalan

Stefan Bertalan was born in 1930 in Răcăştie, Romania and died in 2014 in Timişoara, Romania.


Stefan Bertalan studied at the Institute of Fine Arts “Ion Andreescu” in Klausenburg. Beginning in 1962 he was Professor at the School of Fine Arts in Timişoara. From 1970 to 1981 he was lecturing at the Faculty of Engineering in Timişoara (Department of Architecture).


In 1965 Bertalan co-founded Group 111, the first artist collective for experimental art in Romania. Followed by his membership in the famous experimental art group Sigma starting in 1970. From 1964 to 2014 he was also a member of Timişoara’s Department of the Union of Artists.


The artist represented Romania at the 46th Venice Biennale in 1995. In 2013 his work was included in the exhibition The Encyclopedic Palace at La Biennale di Venezia, curated by Massimiliano Gioni in Venice.


Initially a driving force of the Romanian neo-constructivist avant-garde, Ştefan Bertalan’s research into cybernetics and system theory informed his search for overarching patterns and systems in natural forms. Close observation of organic processes and systematic studies of shapes found in organic, vegetal, and mineral forms eventually led to the artist’s development of an interconnected cosmology of all things.

The artist’s 1981 move from Timișoara where he had originally developed his art, engaged with other artists and taught at university to the much smaller town of Sibiu initiated what Erwin Kessler has called an “inner emigration” that began long before the actual departure from Romania to Germany in 1986.


The loss of his artistic context and the isolation of the new environment intensified the artist’s retreat to observation of the natural world and even to an identification with nature. Initiated by a series of intense dreams, to which the artist referred as apparitions, Bertalan began a series of emotionally charged drawings that insert the artist’s body into those of plants, creating hybrid formations.


Bertalan’s solo exhibitions include: Ştefan Bertalan, Muzeul de Artă, Timişoara (2012); The Self-Punishing One, Mogosoaia Palace, traveling to Muzeul de Artă, Timişoara/ The Bánffy Palace, Cluj and Neuklosterburg (2009).


Selected group exhibitions include: Things we sense about each other, Badischer Kunstverein, Karlsruhe (2021); Parlament der Pflanzen, Kunstmuseum Liechtenstein, Liechtenstein (2020); Ex-East. Past and recent stories of the Romanian avant-garde, Espace Niemeyer - Siège du Parti communiste Français, Paris (2019); La Brique, The Brick, Cărămida, La Kunsthalle Mulhouse, Mulhouse (2019); Dissolve into a red dwarf, Islands, Brussels (2017); Speech, Performance Festival Zona 4, Timişoara (2002) and Selbstbildnis in der zeitgenössischen rumänischen Kunst, Kunstmuseum Timişoara (2001).


Two comprehensive monographic publications have recently been published: Ştefan Bertalan: inner emigration by Erwin Kessler and Ştefan Bertalan: Überlagerungen / Suprapuneri / Overlappings by Ileana Pintilie.