Communist era “votive” panels

Communist era “votive” panels, Unirii Square area, Bucharest (©Valentin Mandache)

I found the two bas-relief like panels presented above, hanging on the wall of a ground floor veranda of an apartment block in the Unirii Square area of Bucharest. They date from the height of the communist era in the 1970s and, looking at their typology, seem inspired from the paintings and creations of Sabin Balasa, a famous Romanian abstract painter active throughout the communist period and after. The panel from the upper half signifies the progress of society through modern industry, depicting a forward leaning worker, backed by a turbine generator and holding his hands on something that look as the elements of a power grid. The lower half panel symbolises education represented by a woman holding a torch that enlightens the masses, seconded by a flag signifying the communist party spirit, battling strong headwinds (a personification of the opposition put by the class enemies, perhaps). The whole assembly is reminiscent of a deeply troubling era for Romania and the outlines of the two panels bring to the fore striking similarities with the visual arts of the Third Reich or the Soviet Union in the 1930s, giving a hint of the strange roots of those dictatorial art trends in the Art Deco era in Europe.


I endeavor through this daily series of daily articles to inspire appreciation of the historic houses of Romania, a virtually undiscovered, but fascinating chapter of European architectural history and heritage.


If you plan acquiring a historic property in Romania or start a renovation project, I would be delighted to advice you in sourcing the property, specialist research, planning permissions, restoration project management, etc. To discuss your particular plan please see my contact details in the Contact page of this weblog.