One of the greatest contemporary Romanian painters, whose exhibitions in Romania and abroad have remained as permanent landmarks in the field. From 1990 until his death in 2000 he was director of the Romanian Peasant Museum. He founded a particular style in European ethnomuseography, which he liked to call “flickering, nascent museology”.
From him I learned that you should not rush or be stubborn when you want to put a project into action. First you think it through, to see if the original idea is right. Nobody knew better than he did. Then you take advice from others, preferably those who you know have different views from yours. Then you try to take account of all the comments, arguing if you reject them, or incorporating them into the draft if you think they might enrich it. Then you wait, i.e. you gestate, preparing the enlightenment. For Horia Bernea, enlightenment meant the conviction that the idea was convergent with faith – assumed and freely Christian. Only then could the project begin the adventure of implementation. And only then did the miracle of the team’s coagulation take place. I have yet to meet anyone else so capable of building small, punctual families with people who are just people, and transforming their weaknesses into creativity, their complexes into personal style, their frustrations into new enthusiasm and their whims into a desire for collective affirmation.
He was not afraid to shock, to irritate, to incite. He infected us with boldness, asking us difficult questions – what do you see here? What do you think about this? What do you understand? why don’t you like it? – or inviting us to contradict him. It wasn’t and isn’t easy. But nothing we do at the museum under his wing is easy. (Ioana Popescu)