“Stefan Popa Popa’s is Romanian, but his career is entirely international. Born in 1955, this man hungry for drawing is also the holder of all world records in caricature, featuring in the Guinness Book. One hundred thirty one caricatures per hour: who say more? It is in fact, the speed record attained by Popa’s, on the 17th of October 1995, overpassing the Belgian Emile Robin who only ,,captured” 106 portraits!
Stefan Popa Popa’s lives to draw and that for over 44 years… During a festival in Saint-Estève he beat the world record in resistance, drawing during 10 days and 10 nights, a number of 1527 portraits in colours. He is addicted to drawing, to caricatures. He is the first to get up in the morning, the last to go to sleep, seeing his fast hand glide over the sheet of paper tireless, like an autonomous entity with a mind of its own, tracing curves and traits with a diabolical precision.
The 1 caricature at 5. Prodigeous artist certainly, if we think that at that age, beyond the iron shades, the small Romanian from Caransebes, had fun while drawing his neighbours on paper napkins and drapes and that he exhibited his 1* professional caricature in the local newspaper at 7!
At 14, he published his works in the sole romanian humour publication, under the Ceasusescu regime. That’s when he starts to participate in national and international salons. From that point on, he shall pass over the borders of the Balkans and more or less The Iron Gates.
From year to year, he visits the European capitals, world capitals, today in Vienne, tomorrow in Leipzig and the day after in Tokyo or Chicago. But what is the reason which inspires him? ,,I love to go straight to the heart of the people through the expression of their eyes, he says, If I see someone smile or burst into laughter, I may draw him/her sadder than he is in fact, but I had captured for a second his melancoly, his inner ill being which was well covered at first by his smile. Also a person who seems solely preoccupied by himself may be in fact generous at heart, and I plan to show in my drawing that hidden facet”. Is Popa’s a sourcerer? No, but a fine psychologist.
No doubt, his secret wounds and failures as a young man made him be able to pierce through the human soul, which one of the common points and a personal feature of all his caricatures. From museum to museum. He excels in the political satire where he gets excited when he forces the traits of the world’s most powerful men, such as: Boris Eltsine, Jaques Chirac, Madeleine Albright, General Lebed, Bill Clinton, Helmuth Kohl, Edouard Balladur his favorite and many others!
Due to his life of work, he was lead to crush certain myths of our time such as Dali whose portrait made by the Romanian is included in the catalogue of the Salvador Dali Museum and to join with illustration artists such as Jerry Robinson, Plantu, Emerson, Tim…
And he even founded the first museum of Romanian Caricature in the Castle of Macea (Arad), in order to plunge back into the rejouvenating bath of his native Romania.
VALÉRIE B.-PONS L’INDEPENDANT 14 October 1999
pictures from the event