The quintessence of the pictorial creation of Gabriel Stephanescu-Arephy is surprised in a small room of the family manor, where the walls host the posters of the exhibitions that took place on the gallerists over the Seine river in Paris.
And I think that nothing could better describe the value of an artist than the models of his own posters at the exhibitions.
Gabriel Stephanescu (Arephy), the youngest family’s child, the son of George Stephanescu and his wife, mezzo-soprano Alexandrina Gavalla, was born in Bucharest, in October 1893. To his name he proudly added the particle “Arephy”, the name of place in Arges County where the family summer residence is, place called Arefu Manor.
The painter Gabriel Stephanescu-Arephy, the son of George Stephanescu, the founder of the Romanian Opera in Bucharest, grew up in a rich artistic background, being in contact with the personalities of the time even since his childhood. As the youngest in the family he was protected especially by Victor, as the only child of George Stephanescu and his first wife. Between the eldest and the youngest there was a difference of more than 17 years and still there was a long and beautiful friendship. Having the same father Victor and Gabriel collaborated to common projects, and looking through the written documents, I realised that there are works of mural paintings of the younger brother in the architectural works of the older brother. In accordance to the redoubtable biographical source on which we base such a mural painting accomplished by Gabriel Stephanescu-Arephy can be seen in the Coronation Cathedral in Alba Carolina, the architectural project of Victor Stephanescu.
In Bucharest he was the student of Vermont and Demetrescu-Mirea, and after his interships as a young artist took place in Geneve and Paris (Ferdinand Hodler’s workshop and the Free Academy of Andre Lothe).
Frequent participant to the phenomenon of fine arts in Paris, he exhibited his work in the official showrooms of the French artists and in the showrooms of the independents in France. In 1921 he was a founder member of the Union of Beaux-Arts and Associate Member of the Showroom of the Independent in Paris from 1928.
His work has been presented in personal exhibitions, in Parisian galleries but also at home in Romania. Beginning with the year 1919 he participated constantly in Romanian official salons and exhibitions organized by the state in Romania.
We also find him in documents attesting the acquisitions of his work during the 60’ and 70’ years to the Fond Plastique as well as to museum collections.
Among the monumental works here are the following reference works: four mosaics for the Casino in Mamaia, wich are now at the Art Museum of Constanta, two panels at House Flavian (now the Russian Embassy in Bucharest) and also The Iconostatis and the Mosaics in the Reunification Cathedral in Alba Carolina (Catedrala Incoronarii de la Alba Iulia), architectural work of his brother, Victor Stephanescu.
The personal exhibitions of the artist:
House of Art – Bucharest, in 1920 and 1923
The Gallery Bernheim Jeune – Paris, in 1924
The Showroom “Mozart” – Bucharest, in 1930
The Gallery “Valérie Marie Brisot” – Paris, in 1934
His Painting Workshop – Bucharest, in 1940
The Showroom “Nicolae Cristea”, Bucharest, in 1967
The Gallery “Levy Mathurin”, Paris, in 1968
The Gallery “Vibenga”, Lausanne, in 1968 and
The Gallery “Knut Gunther, Paris, in 1974 – the last anthumous exhibition of the painter.
Posthumously, his works were exposed to The Eforie Gallery in 1976 and the Museum County Arges in 1977. Under patronage City Hall of Sector 2, in 2006 an important exhibition was organized including paintings throughout the period creation of the painter Gabriel Stephanescu-Arephy.