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The Art Encounters Biennial 2023 in Timisoara, European Capital of Culture 2023

focusing on the intersection between art, science, and fiction with the biennial's theme Rhino


The Art Encounters Biennial 2023, a contemporary art biennial held in Timisoara, Romania, one of three European Capitals of Culture 2023, has recently finished. Celebrating its fifth edition this year, the Biennial's theme entitled Rhino Is Not a Myth highlighted the intersection between art, science, and fiction by exploring progressive artworks.

Art Encounters 2023 Official Poster ©Art Encounters 2023
 Albrecht Dürer, The Rhinoceros, 1515, Woodcut on laid paper, 23.5 x 29.8 cm

Albrecht Dürer (1471-1528)’s renowned drawing The Rhinoceros created in 1515 inspired the Biennial’s theme of this year as a remarkable example of artistic and scientific imagination. Dürer draw the exotic animal he had never seen before by relying on his own imaginative abilities after hearing from some stories. As Europe was actively searching for new trade routes in the era of the Renaissance, the rhinoceroses captured in newly founded lands used to be common diplomatic gifts. The rhinoceros Dürer dipicted was a diplomatic gift for the Pope captured in Bengal, India, but drowned during a journey via Lisbon. Dürer's The Rhinoceros remains today a symbol of colonialism rationalizing the violence and oppression under the name of reasonableness. 

In literature, the rhinoceros has also symbolic meanings. The Romanian-French playwright Eugène Ionesco (1909-1994), for instance, described human beings transforming rhinoceroses as they lose their individuality and critical ideas in the modern world in his play Rhinocéros written in 1959. Besides, the rhinoceros makes us aware of its species’ vulnerability because of climate change and indiscriminate hunting in the present day.

With the theme related to the rhinoceros having many nuances, the Bienniale invited over 60 artists to showcase their works featuring the fusion of art and science.

Floriama Cândea, Somatizing Object#2, 2022, Kinetic Installation, Photo: Alex Mirutziu
Sakib Rahman, izanur, Fear of Social Bin, 2021, Mixed media installation in situ, videos, assemblage text, sculpture and public art, Various size, Photo: Alex Mirutziu, ©Sakib Rahman Mizanu

During the Biennial, the Timisoara National Museum of Art presented the artworks by the Romanian surrealist painter Victor Brauner (1903-1966). In 2024, a large retrospective exhibition of the legendary Romanian sculptor Constantin Brâncuși (1876-1957) will be also held at the same place with his numerous works from museums worldwide. Timisoara is being a new hub for culture and art.

On 30th April, before starting the Biennial, the 8th Korea-Romania International Art Exchange Exhibition at the Timisoara Western University Museum successfully closed.

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Victor Brauner, Stable unstable, plain of Théus, 1942
Oil on canvas, 73 x 54 cm ©ADAGP ©Centre Pompidou, Paris
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