Finding richness in simplicity: Works on paper by Andrei Cojocaru

TWS –Hi Andrei, Can you tell us something you’d like our readers to know about you?

AC –Hello! My name is Andrei Cojocaru, a Romanian artist living and working in Paris, France. I’ve been making collages since 2008. For many years it has been just a hobby, something on the side, a very necessary creative outlet during my studies and later my work in advertising. In 2018 I decided to take a leap and become a full time artist and freelance illustrator.

TWS –Your from Romania and based in Paris, France. Can you comment on the influences these two places have in your work? 

AC –To be honest, I’ve never tried to rationalize this aspect of my life. I’m not even sure that the places themselves influenced my work directly, but more the fact that there are two of them: the place where I was born and grew up, and the placee where I live and work right now.

I was lucky to be able to go back and forth between France and Romania, Paris and Bucharest over the years. The result was that I developed a double culture. I was able to find inspiration in more places and get to know more people with a different mentality and vision and this probably shaped my work on a subconscious level.

Also, I believe that the fact that I am calling two places home and missing each of them when I leave it developed some sort of melancholy and nostalgia. These are reflected in my work through the choice of images, the attraction towards vintage materials, the choice of colours, etc.

Andrei Cojocaru, Laughter, 2020

TWS –What led you to working with collage? What has collage as a medium that you don’t find in other art techniques?

AC –What attracted me in the first place was how easy it is to get started! You don’t need fancy or expensive materials. You also don’t need formal art training. All you need is a scalpel or a pair of scissors, a stick of glue and a bit of imagination. The rest, you can find all around you: in books, magazines, found papers, photos you’ve taken.

I also like a lot the idea of remix, transformation and upcycling. As collage artists, we use things that already exist, we create new images with old ones. We give a new life to stuff which, otherwise, would end up forgotten or thrown away. I think that this aspect of our work is important and it’s something you don’t have in other art techniques.

TWS –Your work is characterised by a mix of geometry and order counterbalanced by chaos and cacophony. Can you talk about your influences and the way your style has been developing in your career?

AC –It is a very good way to describe my work and I think it is a reflection of who I am not just as an artist, but as a human being in general. I sometimes can’t make up my mind when there are too many choices about how to approch something, and I also get bored pretty easily. So I have this constant need to change, move from one extreme to the other. Between order and chaos, between planning and improvisation, between abstract and figurative.

I find inspiration in many things around me. Right now I am definitely exploring an abstract territory in my work, inspired by geometry, architecture, sculptures, black and white photography. I am trying to detach myself from my source images, take them out of their context, reduce them to simple shapes and rebuild something with these newborn pieces. I am focussed more on texture and composition, resulting in minimalistic work with a limited, sometimes very limited, colour palette. I’m discovering so much richness in simplicity, it’s really fascinating!

But I feel that with time, this will certainly evolve into something more chaotic and wild, for me it’s the logical next step in this perpetual quest for new ways to express what’s in my mind and heart.

Andrei Cojocaru, Ornates, 2020
Andrei Cojocaru, Silent Dialogue 01, 02

TWS –Can you walk us through the process of creating your artworks? How much space is for improvisation in it?

AC –In many cases, my process is the same: it usually starts with one or more images that drew my attention while browsing through my files. Even if I’m not going to use them at that exact moment, I keep those images in my mind until I am ready. Until then, I usually start thinking about a composition: how I would cut the images, what other shapes or colours would I add to them, etc.

So I can say that before I actually start making the collage, I have this rough idea if the direction it will take. But improvisation is still a big part of the process, because as I browse through hundreds of pieces of paper and photos, new ideas appear and the initial plan often ends up not being respected.

Also, on of my obsessions is to have a well balanced composition. To get there it often involves starting a collage from scratch, several times, until I am happy with the result, so again, improvisation definitely has its place in my work in these situations.

TWS –The representation of the human body is an issue that’s transversal to your work. Could you tell us something about the issues you want to address with your work?

AC –This recurrent theme kind of imposed itself to me naturally. I believe that the human body is one of nature’s greatest creations, a true work of art in itself. Beautiful, strong, complex, it has adapted through time and always survived the obstacles and traps of existence. It has so many different forms and expressions, I find this very fascinating.

I’m also particularly attracted to images of statues and sculptures that represent the human body. I believe that they add a level of intensity and complexity to this whole representation, because they also have survived, sometimes for hundreds or thousands of year, they stood the test of time.

What I want to do through some of my work is to pay homage to nature’s greatest artwork through my own art.

Andrei Cojocaru, Poetry, 2020

TWS –Which is your (own and personal) definition of collage?

AC –I think that from the very beginning of my collage practice, the word that has best defined it for me is freedom. Collage gave me the freedom to create a new world that didn’t have to respect any existing rules, where choices don’t have to be explained. I have a motto: there is beauty in strange places. And collage gives us the freedom to explore those places, the freedom to mix everything, try any possible combination, put random elements that have nothing to do with each other, and come up with a piece that is impactful and eye-grabbing.

More Andrei Cojocaru on his website and on instagram

Andrei Cojocaru, Mask, 2020
Andrei Cojocaru, Idol, 2020
Andrei Cojocaru, Full Moon 02
Andrei Cojocaru, La peur de l’oubli 01, 02
Andrei Cojocaru, Isolation 01
Andrei Cojocaru, Silhouette 02
Andrei Cojocaru, Xipe Totec