Ion Zupcu’s photographs have always involved a high degree of transformation. His early images remade ordinary objects as elegant sculptural arrangements. Yet increasingly, Zupcu has worked in a mode that is more akin to painting or drawing, where he uses the camera to construct rather than simply transform his subject. One recent body of work created a group of substantive forms from mere slips of paper. The basic materials in his current series, Painted Cubes, are tiny wooden blocks. Through a process of painting and photography, Zupcu uses these simple objects to fashion a set of images that elegantly combine strands of minimalism, optical art, and constructivism. By altering scale, combining images, and creating convincing illusions of depth and distance, Zupcu creates lush explorations of surface, impossible arrangements of objects in space, and dizzying layers of imagery that slyly and joyously celebrate what one can do with a few cubes.
Ion Zupcu was born in Romania in 1960 and studied photography in Bucharest in the early 1980s. He worked as a commercial photographer and printer in Romania until moving to the U.S. in 1991. While always interested in art, living and working in New York exposed Zupcu to a much broader photographic world than what had been available to him in Romania. New York’s galleries and museums offered Zupcu a crash course in American photographic history, and he absorbed much of what he saw. When he was able to return to making his own artwork, Zupcu’s photographs became an amalgamation of these new American influences and his earlier roots in Eastern European and Soviet art. Zupcu initially focused on landscape, yet in the late 1990s, he turned his attention to still-life photography. Over the past fifteen years, Zupcu’s interest in still life has yielded several bodies of work featuring, among other things, bottles, fabrics, eggs, and folded paper. Superficially, they appear to be about objects, yet for Zupcu they are diary notations. They are glyphs that fix memories in place, telling him who he was and what he was doing at the time he took the photograph.
Ion Zupcu has exhibited his photographs nationally and internationally, and his work has been published in a number of publications, including B&W Magazine and Lens Work. His photographs are now represented in several public and private collections including the Museum of Fine Arts Houston, the Detroit Institute of Art, The University of Michigan Museum of Art, the Dayton Art Institute, and the Ialomita County Museum of Art, Romania.