Ștefan Bertalan (1930-2014) is a central figure of the Romanian neo-avant-garde, a member and a co-founder of group 111 in 1965 and of Sigma group in 1970. In an attempt at finding a personal artistic language and at detaching himself from academic conformism, he guides his theoretical researches towards Paul Klee’s texts, the principles of constructivism and the model of the Bauhaus School, together with his colleagues. The work of Ștefan Bertalan, formed of object, multimedia installations, photographs, actions, has drawing as a guiding thread that links all these periods.
Selected exhibitions: The Encyclopedic Palace, the 55th edition of the Venice Biennial (2013); Ștefan Bertalan, Art Museum, Timișoara (2012, solo); The Emigrant Clown, Timișoara Museum of Art / Quadro Gallery, Cluj-Napoca (2012 / 2011, solo); De Natura Rerum, Johnen Galerie, Berlin (2012, solo); Cel ce se pedepsește singur [The One that Punishes Himself], Muzeul Mogoșoaia, Bucharest (2009); Drumuri la răscruce [Roads at Crossroads], ArTe Gallery (2005, solo); Festivalul Zona 4 – Europa de Est, Timișoara (2002); Festivalul Zona 3 – Europa de Est, Timișoara (1999); Studiul I, Bastion Gallery, Timișoara (1978); Fourth Leonardo Action, Parcul Central, Timișoara (1978); Romanian Art Today, Richard Demarco Gallery, Edinburg (1971); Constructivist Biennial, Nürnberg (1969); Constructivist Art, Sonja Henje Gallery, Oslo (1969); Five Artists from Timișoara, Sala Kalinderu, București (1968); Triennial of Decorative Arts, Milano (1968).
Being a member and cofounder of the 111 group, with Roman Cotoșman and Constantin Flondor, and of the Sigma group, in 1970, Ștefan Bertalan had an artistic activity deeply connected with the particular interest he had for new mediums and new materials, being one of the first members to experiment with these (ever since the 111 group period). Another interesting aspect of his career was his ability to combine bionics and geometry, with actions organized in nature, in Timișoara, during his time in the Sigma group: Benzi tensionate peste Timiș (Tense bands over Timiș), Acțiune Dracșina (Dracșina Action) or Leonardo. Spectacol pentru public (Leonardo. Public show). This ecological interest he had for nature (particularly visible in his action at the Kalinderu Gallery in 1979, Am trăit 130 de zile cu o plantă de floarea soarelui (I lived for 130 days with a sunflower plant) can be regarded, to a degree, as an influence of German artist Joseph Beuys’ artistic activity.