Petru Botezatu was born in Romania in 1940

Not long before his high school graduation he became a victim of the newly installed communist regime in Romania. The young man was found guilty of political crimes and sentenced to spend 12 years of imprisonment in some of the most atrocious prisons of the epoch. It was only by a miracle that 3 years later, devastated by the extermination regime he was subject to, by starvation and forced labor imposed on detainees, suffering of severe T.B, Petru was released.

In 1964 the artist was admitted at the Faculty of Fine Arts, which he graduated with a fine arts teaching diploma. Though still considered a political dissident and kept under a close surveillance, for the next decade the artist was allowed to teach visual arts in the public schools system. It was a time that the artist dedicated mostly to intense personal studies and to the most diverse and assiduous artistic pursuits and projects having as purpose the advancement of his artistic knowledge and mastership.

In 1977 Petru abandons any kind of artistic manifestation or attempt to publicly exhibit his artwork within the communist Romania. The decision came as a direct consequence of the realization that the censorship pressures exerted on his creation were the result of his refusing to collaborate in any way with the regime, which made his career as an artist hit nothing else, but a dead end.

That same year he returns to the region where he was born, in a sort of temporary retreat. It is here, in the seclusion of some of the oldest monasteries in the North Moldavia, where he rediscovers the enshrouded thesaurus of centuries old Byzantine mural frescoes. Under the irresistible influence of their magnificence, totally enthralled by the ancient beauty hermetically contained in their spirituality and fascinating expression, he starts painstaking studies with some of the old and most secretive masters, parsimoniously sharing their techniques, hardly passing the secrets of this ancient mural art from generation to generation.

Consequently, in 1979, Petru changes gears, when he discovers his most favorable domain where he could relinquish his insatiable creativity, his devouring power of creation. He embarks on the creation of a titanic cycle of sacred murals, being soon commissioned to paint vast ensembles of mural paintings, in churches and cathedrals, mostly in fresco. There will be monumental compositions of a tremendous complexity, which would allow him not only to work on a grandiose scale, but would also grant him a unique chance to give a new artistic and plastic interpretation from a contemporary perspective to the entire iconographyc program of decorating the orthodox churches, according to traditions and canons and a dogma going back to the time of the Byzantine Empire.

After relentless efforts , in a never abandoned hope for freedom, Petru succeeds to obtain a passport with a visa for the Western World.

On June 29, 1987, he officially became a political refugee in Austria.

Almost 2 years later, he decides to leave Europe and settle down in Canada, at Ottawa. It was here, in North America where he first experienced from the early stage of his exile, a different type of capitalist society ruling the American continent. The commercialization of the arts, that he gets to know here, as deploring as the political communist censorship he once experienced in his country of origin, became soon another critical obstacle in the development of his artistic career.

In spite of this he continues to create major museum quality works of art, both secular and sacred.

In 1994 the artist has been summoned from Canada to Birmingham, Alabama, USA, at Samford University, where he was commissioned to paint the dome and the 2 apses murals of their newly built, Renaissance style Chapel of The Divinity School.

For the next 5 years Petru was an artist in residence at this University , where he completed a number of very impressive projects which included sculptures, reliefs, and other paintings on canvas and panels to decorate the premises of the Divinity School, besides the very large scale murals.

His artwork was first shown and acclaimed in the USA in Birmingham, Alabama, in a solo exhibition celebrating, as part of an entire series of events, "The Grande Finale" - the dedication of the Divinity School Chapel.

In 1997 he became permanent USA resident, due to his extraordinary abilities , living ever since in Birmingham, Alabama .

Starting 2001when he was commissioned to paint in fresco, the new Orthodox Cathedral built by Father Ioan Ghiurco in Zalau, Salaj (Transylvania) as a replica to Saint Sophia, in Costantinopole (now Istanbul) he returns to Romania, every summer.

Considered a master in painting murals even before the age of 40, Petru grew up, studied, worked and created during a totalitarian communist regime of distressful recollection, one of the most brutal dictatorship in former Easter Europe and ever in history. The oppression, persecution and imprisonment which have mutilated his early years, became unfortunately an ever lasting trauma which marked his entire evolution.

In the pursuit of his own artistic vision, the artist undertook though a highly personal Creation Journey.

Petru's creation of an incredible pluralism and diversity, which almost defies categorization, spanning over a period of more than 40 years, on different meridians and multiple continents, resulted in the largest ensembles of public murals in fresco created in contemporary times, a prodigious collection of other original artwork, ranging from mixed media works on paper, to oils or acrylics on canvas, to sculptures, carvings or reliefs in formats going from miniature to monumental, both sacred and secular, public or residential.

The artist who completely painted in fresco, tempera, acrylic and oil an impressive number of religious edifices over his entire career, is now still involved, and this is the sixth year - in the monumental project of painting the frescoes at the Sf. Vinere Cathedral , which might take another 2-3 years to be completed. In parallel he continues to paint the older cathedral of the city of Zalau, (Transylvania) as well as other projects adding up together to many thousands of sacred murals he paints every year.

Petru Botezatu's icons and angels embellish numerous church iconostasis , and a even larger number of private collections all over the world.

Though icons are born within the spirituality of the Orthodox Byzantine Empire, and are a manifestation of an ancient art, they continue today to influence people from all walks of life, they exert a undeniable fascination through their intrinsic symbolism, helping our contemplation and prayer.

It is the magnificent and complex art in these objects that render them apt to absorb the sanctity necessary to make the sacred world accessible to humanity.

It is the artist genius which allows the icons to become not only objects of revelation, but also continuous fountains of Divinity, true instruments of Divine Revelation.

The iconographer, is the messenger God chose to reveal to us His invisible presence. He is the one capable to establish - visually - through his gift, the unfathomable correspondence between image and the Holy Scripture.

Copyright 2006 Petru Botezatu - All Rights Reserved