Mihai Stănescu (b. 29 July 1939, Boldești, jud. Prahova – d. 14 aprilie 2018, Bucharest) was one of the most well-known and most influential Romanian cartoonists of all time. His work as a draughtsman with an out-of-the ordinary satirical sense made him extremely inconvenient to the Ceauşescu regime, and many of his drawings were banned in the last two decades of Romanian communism. For many years, Mihai Stănescu was kept under very close surveillance by the representatives of the repressive institution of Romanian communism, the Securitate. Mihai Stănescu graduated from the Nicolae Grigorescu Institute of Fine Arts in Bucharest in 1966 and was posted to the Ministry of Tourism, where he we dealt with advertising graphics for several years. It is in this period that he designed the cover of Almanahul Turistic 1967, the most interesting cover of this publication. Starting from the 1970s, he enjoyed a prodigious career as a draughtsman and cartoonist. He won numerous national and international distinctions for cartoon, one of the most prestigious being the gold medal that he received in 1981 at the international cartoon competition of the Japanese newspaper Yomiuri Shimbun. The theme of the competition was “Walls,” and his prizewinning cartoon showed a crowd of people surrounded by a high wall with a single door, which, however, opened onto a precipice, a subtle allusion to the constraints with no escape faced by those who lived in communist Romania. The cartoon was reproduced in the volume Umor 50% (Humour 50%).
The subtle criticism of Nicolae Ceauşescu’s communist regime in Mihai Stănescu’s cartoons led to many of his works being banned from exhibitions and the withdrawal of two volumes, one from bookshops in 1982 and the other from the printers in 1985. A Securitate note of 1985 mentions that: “In February 1983, Stănescu Mihai opened an exhibition in the Eforie Gallery in Bucharest. On establishing that he intended to exhibit some cartoons with tendentious content, the leadership of the Union of Visual Artists was informed, and, before the opening, they ordered the removal of the drawings in question and forbad the distribution of the catalogue of the exhibition. As a consequence of the withdrawal from bookshops of his album published in 1982 and the removal of some of his cartoons from his exhibition in 1983 or from among those proposed by him for publication abroad, the person in question has adopted the attitude of someone persecuted, displaying his displeasure that in this country he is supposedly not appreciated at his true value, while abroad he has been awarded over twenty international prizes” (Stănescu 2009).
Under communism, Mihai Stănescu put together and published two volumes of cartoons in Romania and another two in France: Mihai Stănescu (1982), Umor 50% (1985), Rire en Roumanie (1988), and C'est pas le moment (1989). Immediately after the change of regime he published the samizdat volume Acum nu e momentul (1990). His career as a draughtsman and cartoonist continued with numerous works of high quality after the fall of communism. Up until his death in 2018, he published in Romania a further eight volumes of cartoons from the communist and post-communist period. On 1 December 2000, the National Day of Romania, the then president Emil Constantinescu decorated him with the National Order of the Star of Romania, grade of Knight, in recognition of “exceptional merits for artistic achievements and the promotion of culture.” According to the art critic Andrei Pleşu, “Mihai Stănescu wrote, in recent years, the comic history of a tragedy. He managed to preserve the normality of laughter in a deranged world and to survive calmly in the midst of disaster. He helped us all to survive. He was the occasion of a permanent and salutary subversion. In his exhibitions we learned to smile complicitly to the stranger by our side, to show solidarity around an allusion to revolt, to preserve our inner health in spite of all the indigence that we were constrained to suffer. His jokes had become folklore, his presence – a guarantee (however precarious) of normality.”
Покажи на картата
Място на раждане
- Boldești-Scăeni, Romania
Дата на раждане
Дата на смърт
- Petrescu, Cristina
- Pătrăşconiu, Cristian Valeriu