She fled communist Romania in 1980, arriving in Australia knowing no-one. But Aida Tomescu has gone on to become one of Australia’s most important abstract painters.

She has exhibited in over 30 solo shows – including a major survey of her work in 2009 with the Drill Hall Gallery – and her work is held in many public and private collections both in Australia and internationally.

Tomescu has also won many awards including the Sulman, Wynne and Dobell prizes – but you get the impression that, although she appreciates that recognition, she doesn’t see those awards as her greatest achievements. It became clear in our conversation that her primary aim is to convey meaning through her work and that appears to have been a lifetime pursuit.

We talk about her childhood in Romania, her arrival in Australia and the challenges she faced and how she quickly connected to the Australian art scene. Tomescu also explains what she calls ‘found’ colour, why she isn’t chasing texture in her paintings and also gives some great advice for art students (which is also relevant for the rest of us!).

This episode has been edited for the podcast but a longer version can be heard on YouTube here.

Tomescu’s show ‘Under the Iron of the Moon’ opens at Jensen gallery in Sydney on 19 October 2017 and we talk about the work in that exhibition as well as her beautiful Wynne finalist painting ‘Bribie’. Images of all the works we talk about are posted below.

Upcoming Events

  • ‘Under the Iron of the Moon’ at Jensen Gallery, Sydney, 19 October to 9 December, 2017

Links to things and people we talk about on the show


‘Angels and Bed’ (I, II, III, IV) 2017, oil on linen, each 46 x 36cm

‘Piatra’ 2000, oil on canvas, 183 x 153cm (winner of Wynne prize 2001)

‘Under the Iron of the Moon’, 2017, oil on linen, diptych, 183 x 306cm

‘Bribie’, 2015, oil on linen, 183 x 153cm

One of five paintings from ‘Quintet’, 2017, oil on linen

‘Negru IV (A candle in a dark room)’ and ‘Negru III (A candle in a dark room)’ 2002, white pastel and charcoal on aquatint, 123 x 80cm each, winner of Dobell drawing prize 2003

‘Messiaen’ 2013 oil and pigments on canvas, 184 x 154cm


3 thoughts on “Ep #33 Aida Tomescu

  1. Marvene Ash

    Enjoyed very much. Thanks to both of you! Loved to hear about Aida’s discussion of the content of the work- how all the elements take on a meaning regardless of the subject.

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