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71-year-old, formerly homeless Romanian collage artist Ion Bârlādeanu opens first UK show

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Romanian collage artist Ion Bârlādeanu, now 71, was made homeless following the 1989 revolution in his home country. He lived for almost 20 years in the rubbish tip under a block of flats, making collage artworks from magazines and other trash he found, satirising both the Communist former nation and the capitalist, celebrity culture he once admired. Ranging from the lighthearted to the darkly comical, and dangerously risky amid the tumultuous political era, the works were a relief for the artist and a candid social commentary.

In 2008 Ion was discovered by a gallery owner and his first exhibition propelled him to fame in Romania, and then internationally when he showed work at Basel art fair the following year. His life has transformed since, with global galleries and collectors seeing his collages as a unique perspective on a vital point in Romania’s history.

Now being celebrated in his first UK show at the Gallery of Everything, Ion is still working, using “contemporary lifestyle magazines such as Omagiu and _DOR_” he tells It’s Nice That, but never higher end titles. “I have a respect for art catalogues or art magazines – I don’t like to cut them out for the collages.”

He believes his success was down to his “honest reactions to the social context”, and that artistic satire remains important “because it builds character, for the one doing it and the one which receives it”. He cites influences as Andy Warhol and Salvador Dali, and Romanian artists Gili Mocanu and Dumitru Gorzo.

Ion Bârlādeanu’s work is one solo show of two, the other focusing on Alan Constable – who also has never shown in the UK – now open at the Gallery of Everything under the exhibition Action, Camera until 18 June 2017.

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