Last updated on March 24th, 2016 at 04:44 pmReading time: 22 minutes
Kitră is Nicolae-Aurel Duță, the Romanian artist with a formal training and out-of-the-ordinary interests is an alumnus of the Bucharest National University of Arts. His research set him on a course that had remained largely uncharted by local artists, a creator of characters equipped with distinct traits and features, which can exist as two-dimensional representations as well as 3D objects. His characters wound up in the most interesting places and inhabited a variety of settings, such as the wall on Pictor Arthur Verona Street, painted during Street Delivery 2014, or pages 66-67 and 297 of the renowned Pictoplasma – Character Portraits [Berlin, October 2014] encyclopedia, alongside character designers worldwide. Kitră draws and experiments incessantly, which led him and fellow artist Titi Ciocan to create the first Romanian art toy, in 2010, Sando by Eldercut™, a 21 cm character which could be customized and collected. Now he lets his characters develop freely and they crop up on paper, wood or take fantastic shapes out of resin.
Kabinet is his studio, a shop and an alternative gallery, the venue which hosted Holy Fair in December 2014. If you want to enter Kitră’s universe, open your eyes wide when strolling in Bucharest, schedule a visit at Kabinet or follow feeder to stay updated on his exhibitions and projects.
Keywords: character design, urban toys, Kabinet, mural, line art, object
this is what feeder would like to know about you:
(please, fill in the blanks)
Once upon a time there was… nothing.
And now there is… everything.
I look without… forgetting.
Teddy bears are… pretty.
Kabinet, the place where… you get treatment.
I relax when… I’m working.
3 artists whose work I really like:
Katharina Grosse: Just Two Of Us (Photo by James Ewing, courtesy of Johann König, Berlin and Public Art Fund NY)
Feeder: Hello, Nicu! How’s life, after months of leave, and how have you been lately?
Kitră: Hello! Same old, same old. “How have I been lately” is a question I’ve also been asking myself. I don’t know how I’m doing, I’m searching for things, for myself, living, drawing, making plans.
F: How long have you been drawing as Kitră and what’s the story behind this identity?
K: Honestly, I don’t know exactly when I started drawing under the alias Kitră, I think it’s been 3 years or maybe less. Before I sat the admission exam at the University of Arts in Bucharest, I had to save some money, I was working as a PVC carpenter at Gealan and, given my fierce wish to get into university, I stopped going out for drinks with my friends, in an attempt to save as much as possible. Some of my friends were telling me I was stingy (chitră) and asking why I wouldn’t go out for drinks with them anymore, and so they began calling me chitră. The fact that I was a chitră helped me become Kitră.
KITRĂ quickie London
“[…] the street is like a sketch book, where I want to see as many sketches, drawings and doodles as possible, to get me energized […]”
F: Although you’re a graduate of the Bucharest University of Arts, the Graphics department, with a background in graphic design in advertising, you made yourself known in the arts mostly on the streets. Why did you choose this environment and what attracted you to the public space, so as to trade the comfort of a traditional career for a personal exploration?
K: I didn’t particularly choose the streets, I generally pick any setting that challenges me, that takes me out of my comfort zone and gives me something in return. For me, the streets are an environment which offers a wide range of experiences, blank canvases, special places and unexpected reactions.
KITRĂ x Titi
“I’m fond of all my projects, I believe in all of them, commercial or artistic, they’re my outputs, whether good or bad.”
F: You have a multitude of street art interventions in your portfolio: paste-ups, stickers, stencils, spray or marker characters, and the wall you painted at Street Delivery 2014 is one of the nicest works on the capital’s streets. What kept you motivated in this field, considering that Bucharest doesn’t really have a lot of active street artists, with an unremitting pursuit?
K: : I don’t think I have that many interventions, I wish I were more active. For me the street is like a sketch book, where I want to see as many sketches, drawings and doodles as possible, to get me energized and motivate me to work when I get home. I want to have more pieces in this sketch book so that I can, in turn, energize other people, that’s what keeps me going.
KITRĂ Dacia 1310
F: How did you grow you characters? What was the stylistic procedure, how did you get to the shapes you approach now and which are distinctive of you?
K: My characters grew and keep growing by themselves, organically. And I started to notice their penchant for the abstract, I think they want to slowly hide away. I get to certain shapes almost instinctively, it’s a process I can’t explain, I just feel it and do it.
KITRĂ don’t bother
F: You took part in different exhibitions and events (Lente, Subiectiv, Kabinet, Energiea, etc). Tell us a bit about your favorites.
K: I’m fond of all my projects, I believe in all of them, commercial or artistic, they’re my outputs, whether good or bad. I’d have to say that one of the most beautiful projects was Bank of Joy, for the ING headquarters, where I was invited to draw on some very large walls, my characters robbing their bank of its sweets and joys.
“[…] we started rendering vector characters into plaster characters, and so we embarked on our adventure through the world of toy design.”
F: You recently appeared in Pictoplasma – Character Portraits (2014), alongside prominent figures in character design (Yomsnil, Brosmind, Tim Biskup, Brecht Vandenbroucke, Ted Parker). How did this happen and what have the first reactions been like? Did you connect with any of the artists also sharing the pages of the encyclopedia of imaginary characters?
K: I’m honored to be featured in this book next to these great, acclaimed artists, whom I have been following for many years. I happened to receive an e-mail from Peter Thaler, asking me if I wanted to be part of Pictoplasma – Character Portraits 2014, and of course I said “Yes”. I was already friends with some of the artists, online friendships where we would exchange a few words.
Pictoplasma – Character Portraits
F: You’re passionate about character design. What’s the difference between working on a flat surface and customizing a sculpture? When and how did you decide to convert the two-dimensional portrayals of your characters into 3D objects? Is there a local interest in art toys or, to put things differently, are there any collectors?
K: It makes no difference to me, I just work, I can’t explain it. Around 2009, my friend Titi and I were straining over our desire to do something together, to get attention, to make ourselves known, to be cool. Driven by this frustration, we started rendering vector characters into plaster characters, and so we embarked on our adventure through the world of toy design. There’s very little interest and understandably so, it’s harder here for new things to catch on.
Kitră plays with clay
F: Tell us more about Kabinet, the art gallery with a built-in shop where we can often find you. When and for who do you open Kabinet? December brought us together, as Kabinet and feeder prepared a collective exhibition, Holy Fair, for the 22nd and 23rd, when the venue hosted works by Aitch, Irlo, Pisică Pătrată, Mihai Barabancea, Sinboy, Saddo și Tokyotoys, along with your characters.
K: Kabinet is a shop and an alternative gallery which emerged as a result of my need and wish to have a place where I can host various events with the people I appreciate, a space that’s ready at hand, meaning my home.
Kabinet is open to anyone, by scheduling an appointment (when necessary).
Kitră – wood brooches
F: What projects are you currently working on and what are your plans for 2015?
K: I’m not working on anything at the moment, just trying to relax.
F: Feeder.ro is celebrating 10 years of activity. What is your first memory about this online community?
K: I think my first memory was when I was in the dorms at the University of Arts, around 2008, browsing Feeder to see what events were taking place that evening.
F: See you at Kabinet! Thank you, Kitră!
KITRĂ loves sketchbooks
Feeder Insider explores the universe surrounding music and visual arts through open conversations with local and international artists. Join us here on our weekly crossing of the border between human and technological. An editorial project co-financed by the Administration of the National Cultural Fund (AFCN).