Radar 2 (or Radar II), 1970
About the artist
Born 1925 – Died 2007
Ovidiu Maitec was born in Arad, Romania, in 1925. After training at the Academy of Arts in Bucharest (1945-50), he acquired a conspicuous domestic reputation for his official monumental works. However, interest outside Romania was mainly stimulated by his small-scale woodcarvings. Their combination of mechanistic forms and native folk-art technique sets up a dialogue that has invited parallels with Constantin Brancusi.
Like Brancusi’s, Maitec’s work was based on the painstaking refinement of a number of recurrent motifs: among these are flight, birds, gates and thrones. With its semi-abstract forms and body pierced in symmetrical rhythms to allow free circulation of air and light, Radar 2 typifies Maitec’s small-scale woodcarvings. The work is animated by two tensions: between a modern subject and a long-established method of production, and between the stark geometry of the outlines and the organic shapes that perforate the forms. The use of negative space, or ‘positive void’, and the play of light and shadow were characteristic of Maitec’s work from the 1960s.
Although clearly related to the political context of the Cold War, Radar 2 has also more than a suggestion of the ‘found object’ to it. The carving of the image in wood, and the clear interconnections with surrounding works of art at Kettle’s Yard, somehow negate sinister connotations, with the function of the object transformed from the military to the aesthetic.
Jim Ede encountered Maitec’s sculpture in the late 1960s, at the time when it was beginning to arouse collectors’ and scholars’ interest in western Europe. He offered the sculptor a one-man show at Kettle’s Yard in 1973, which was instrumental in establishing Maitec’s reputation in Britain. Ede also acquired several pieces between 1969 and 1971, two staying in the house and one later given to the Tate Gallery.
Provenance: purchased by H.S. (Jim) Ede from the artist, December 1971.