In 1924, Paciurea sent five works to the XIVth International Art Exhibition in Venice, among which an ‘Eminescu’s Monument Project’ and one chimera. The Project was broken on its way to Venice. As for the mysterious chimera, the only one he ever exhibited abroad, we haven’t found any statement or photograph that could have helped us to identify it.
The most controversial part of Paciurea’s work was finally recognised by the authorities in 1927, when he obtained the National Prize for Sculpture for the ‘Chimera of the Air, shown at the Official Salon in Bucharest. If the sculptor had always cautiously exhibited his sculpted chimeras together with other works, his drawings weren’t shown to the public, except for one time, in 1929, at the Drawing and Engraving Official Salon in Bucharest. The rediscovery of his drawings allows us to measure the extent of his work. Paciurea certainly wanted to create new forms and, from this point of view, his drawings aim towards a much more liberated formal language than his sculptures. His contorted figures abandon all proportions and all anatomical similitude. His pencil drawings, as well as his watercolours, gouaches or ink compositions, representing chimeras, were most probably produced in the 1920s. The identification of the three drawings shown three years before his death, is impossible, due to the same lack of information I mentioned above. The Salon catalogue only gives us the title, which is invariably ‘Chimera’. Only one of Paciurea’s drawn chimeras is mentioned in the permanent exhibition of 1940, in the Pinachotek of Bucharest. All the other drawings seem to never have been exhibited during Paciurea’s lifetime, being thus unknown to most of his contemporaries.
The sculptor’s last years are marked by suffering: a physical one, caused by cancer that led to his death on 14 July 1932, but also a moral pain, caused by bitterness and frustration. Indeed, the rare interviews of Paciurea prove that he considered his talent not fully recognised, especially by the establishment. The speech of the painter Camil Ressu, officially sent to Paciurea’s funeral by the Romanian Academy, reveals an image of the artist that was used by later historiography: ‘We thought that he was healthy, but he was sick; we believed him to be sceptical, but he was romantic; we believed him shy, but he was proud; we thought he was cheerful, but he was sad. Concealed in his inner life, he appears to us as mysterious, strange and cold. […] His complex feelings were materialised in his art.’
The question of the chimeras’ origin in Paciurea’s work often aroused contradictory opinions. There is no doubt that we should start asking ourselves about the sculptor’s interest in medieval art, so rich in monsters of all kind. The recent discovery of a bronze sculpture signed by Paciurea, but whose attribution remains to be confirmed, shows the sculptor’s curiosity for gargoyles, from which this figure, called ‘Griffon’ by its owner, is directly inspired: the long and tense neck from which a howl seems to burst out, its position and anatomy, entirely elongated, refer to this architectural element that is the gargoyle. Moreover, a drawing associating chimeras to a capital may confirm this source of inspiration.