Like the previous work, ‘The Chimera of the Night’, exhibited in Bucharest in 1928, associates the potentially dangerous feminine figure and the bird. In Romanian folklore, the owl is also endowed with evil powers: its cry predicts death. Unlike the earlier chimeras, this patinated plaster figure, measuring up to 96 centimetres, testifies to a completely different sculptural conception. Most of Paciurea’s chimeras are conceived to be seen under different angles and become more suggestive through the way in which they stand out in space. On the contrary, ‘The Chimera of the Night’ forms a quadrangular compact block, made to be seen frontally or in a three-quarter view. The large eye-socket creates a fixed and harrowing look, while the childlike face has the impassibility of a mask. Its plumage is summarily executed, in small successive rectangles. Paciurea’s interest in geometry is also to be found in the half-curves of the breast, which seem to be stuck on the body. Like others chimeras, this one has a patina and the various colours employed – green, brown and gold – give to this monumental creature a power of suggestion even more striking. A nocturnal figure, ‘The Chimera of the Night’ doesn’t suggest the idea of a howl: it is a silent, hieratic creature. Childhood, femininity and death are concentrated in this solemn hybrid that seems to be watching over the threshold of some forbidden nocturnal world.Another chimera, perched on a pedestal that suggests an overhanging position, associates an androgynous head with a monstrous body, subject to contradictory tensions. Contrary to ‘The Chimera of the Night’, the accent here is put on sinuosity and on the body’s flexibility. The hind paws are violently stretched, while the bust and the neck are thrown backwards, in a resistance or a defence position. The rest of the body seems to continue its climbing, which reinforces the tension within this creature. The impassiveness of the face is common to other chimeras. Nevertheless, far from displaying an impassive coolness, the small ‘Winged Chimera’ seems to smile. Its indefinable and enigmatic smile is analogous to the smiles painted by Leonardo Da Vinci. Paciurea must have admired the painter, as we can identify on a photograph a reproduction of ‘Saint John the Baptist’, among the reproductions on the wall, behind the sculptor. Unlike other chimeras, this bold creature is looking straight at the spectator, with its strange eyes, sketched out by two delicate depressions, underlined by the arch of the eyebrows.
‘The Chimera of the Air’, probably the most astonishing sculpture belonging to the three elements group, was exhibited in 1927, at the Official Salon. The National Prize awarded to this sculpture aroused many contradictory opinions and one of the most famous Romanian art critics of the time, Oscar Water Cisek characterised the chimera as ‘a totally anti-sculptural work’. ‘I think’, he continues, ‘that this Chimera of the Air wouldn’t have lost anything of its chimerical nature, if it had had more sculptural qualities. In its present state, this chimera has nothing to do in an artistic exhibition. It is nothing more than a simple weirdness, come from elsewhere than the artistic horizon’. But Paciurea also had his defenders, among whom the critic Petre Comarnescu, who, even if he admitted not understanding this chimera, saw in it the personification of a thought, ‘just come out from a dream’.
Nowadays ‘The Chimera of the Air’ has lost some of its golden patina, the white layer that once covered its face like a mask has disappeared, as well as the golden star that crowned it. We can still see its white mask on a photograph. This chimera was most likely inspired by another one of Eminescu’s poems, probably the most famous poem of Romanian poetry, ‘Hyperion’ (1883). All its attributes recall the poem’s main character. Hyperion is an immortal being, who, deceived by human nature, exiles himself in the universe and chooses to live its immortality in solitude. Death, exile, injustice, incomprehension, solitude, and suffering are the main themes of this poem. The chimera’s white mask may thus recall Hyperion’s impassibility and inaccessibility, its wings make us think of his tragic and terrible ascent, the golden patina of the light that he spreads around him and the star recalls his belonging to the celestial universe. Wound up like a snake, this strange pedestal evokes a cocoon from where the chimera bursts out. Spreading its thin angelic wings, this triumphant chimera is perched on this mound of convolutions, which could suggest a superposition of clouds or waves. Its paradoxical body is conceived neither for walking nor for flying, while its face expresses a cold indifference and a hieratic rigidity.
With the chimeras of the earth, air and water, Paciurea created three sculptures tightly bound to their specific elements: ‘The Chimera of the Water’ has a long and pointed face, as if it were conceived to split the waters; ‘The Chimera of the Earth’, with its feline and snakelike body, is firmly attached to the earth; and ‘The Chimera of the Air’ belongs to the space by its extreme stretching, and by the display of its wings which slash the air. Similar to some sort of enchanted visions, these chimeras are extremely polished, and Paciurea gave them a brown-golden or a brown-red patina. The light seems thus to cover their forms, by highlighting the brilliance of their surfaces.