In the past decade, the city of Timișoara has become a city appreciated both nationally and internationally, one of the most influential and dynamic centres of contemporary art in Romania, with an effervescent cultural life.
One of the focal points of cultural support, Art Encounters Foundation provides a meeting place for people, ideas, cultures and communities, creating a platform for contemporary art connected to Timișoara and the global art scene. Founded in 2015 by Ovidiu Şandor, art collector and entrepreneur based in Timișoara, the Art Encounters Foundation is an initiative to support contemporary art in Romania, with the aim of encouraging dialogue, knowledge, research and experimentation in the field of visual arts.
The foundation’s activities focus on the organisation of the Art Encounters Biennial and the exhibition programme held at its permanent space, the publication of art books and albums, as well as the development of national and international collaborations. Its exhibitions promote new forms of visual expression through experimental artistic practices. The first Art Encounters Biennial edition (2015) was curated by Nathalie Hoyos and Rainald Schumacher and focused on the Romanian contemporary art from the 1960s and to the present day from an archaeological perspective, exploring the concepts of appearance and essence. Starting from the idea that artworks are expressions of both thought and reason and the emotional relationship with reality and the social environment, the two curators searched for what they called “the cultural difference, for the individual nuances in the global discourse”, without necessarily emphasizing “an enigmatic national identity”.
For the second edition of the Art Encounters Biennial (2017), curators Ami Barak and Diana Marincu, starting from Georges Perec’s novel Life – A User’s Manual, analysed and compiled sections, fragments of everyday reality as they appeared in both current and historical artistic projects, revealing artistic visions that coped with an increasingly unstable reality. Faced with the incoherence of life, artists seek solutions and propose ways of understanding through a specific language of visual symbols and metaphors.
The 2019 edition of the Biennial dealt with contemporary art as a form of knowledge that along with science, politics, literature and philosophy outlined a discourse about the complexity of life today. Curators Maria Lind and Anca Rujoiu associated new artworks and artistic practices with situations, places and themes anchored in the ambience and history of Timișoara. The name of the Biennial, Art Encounters, was inspiration for reflection and dialogue, and the artworks were the final products of encounters based on the contact and the conflict over art and its extended territory, which occur individually or within groups of artists.
The 2021 Art Encounters Biennial, entitled Our Other Us and curated by Mihnea Mircan and Kasia Redzisz, will focus on the transformations and drifts that influence individual and collective self-perception. This edition delves into the projections we build in relation to the Other and society, boundaries, distances, proximities, the inward and the outward. Contemporary art provides the best setting for these dynamics. There will be two distinct curatorial projects – Landscape in a Convex Mirror by Mihnea Mircan and How to Be Together, by Kasia Redzisz.
Art Encounters lies at the intersection of an experimental art festival and a contemporary art biennial, focusing on the Romanian cultural connections from a relative geographical proximity. The mission of the Art Encounters Foundation is to propose visual art as a key element in understanding today’s society, to consolidate the local artistic community by creating a platform open to discussion and action. The public should feel encouraged to explore the field of art and to become part of a fluid process of knowledge, with the aim of shaping a more promising and sustainable future.