David Popa Renders Ephemeral Portraits on Ice Floes

Art can be expressed and created in different ways. This skilled Romanian artist expresses his inspiration and art in natural landscapes.

By: THURSD. | 26-04-2023 | 4 min read
Floral Art
Icy baltic installations by David Popa header

David Popa is a Romanian artist who creates intricate and stunning land art installations that challenge our perceptions of nature and the environment. His works are inspired by the natural world and often utilize organic materials in the surrounding landscape. Let's dive deeper into David Popa's work and explore what makes it so unique and captivating.

David Popa Creates Fruitful and Creative Art That Is Fractured on Baltic Ice Floes

David Popa has developed an outstanding collection taking place in Finland since he states it would be quite unthinkable and impossible to do this type of art in New York City after a decade of living there. The artist frequently works on land and sea, particularly on the Baltic's fragmented ice floes, to create large-scale portraits and figurative murals that connect the ephemerality of human life and the environment.

In intimate depictions of his wife or newborn kid, he emphasizes the inevitability of change as time passes, seasons change, and the environment warms. After taking some drone photos of the areas, he began working, spraying the contours of a cheek or lip onto the icy matter.


Video by David Popa


One of the most striking aspects of Popa's work is the scale at which he operates. His installations are often massive in size, spanning acres of land and requiring a team of volunteers to help construct. These large-scale works allow viewers to experience nature in a new and profound way, as they become immersed in the landscape and the artwork itself. The overall effect is one of peace and tranquility, as though the viewer has stumbled upon a hidden oasis in the middle of the wilderness.

David Popa Works With Natural Materials

Another aspect of Popa's work that sets it apart is using natural materials. Rather than relying on synthetic or man-made materials, Popa creates his installations using rocks, stones, soil, and other organic matter. This allows the work to blend seamlessly into the surrounding environment, as though it has always been there.


David Popas art using natural materials


Popa opts for natural materials like white chalk from the Champagne region, ochres from France and Italy, and powdered charcoal he makes himself—the latter also plays a small role in purifying the water, leaving it cleaner than the artist found it. Most pieces take between three and six hours to complete, and his work time is dependent on the weather, temperature, and condition of the sea. Popa shares:

"The charcoal will sink into the ice and disappear from a very dark shade to a medium shade, so it has to be created very quickly and documented. No to mention the work on the ice will just crack and drift away completely, or the next day it will snow and be completely covered."


Baltic ice art done by David Popa


Additionally, the use of natural materials creates a sense of impermanence, as the installation will eventually be reclaimed by the earth and disappear over time. This impermanence is a key theme in Popa's work, as he seeks to highlight the fleeting nature of life and the beauty that can be found in transience.

Some of Popa’s Most Remarkable Installations

One of David Popa's most known series is the one denominated 'Fractured'. It is a project located on various ice floats in southern Finland. By use of only earth, charcoal, and the source water, a series of portraits were created on fractured ice floats that remained for only a brief time. The pieces, done by David Popa were documented via aerial drone video, with this project evolving as a response to the ongoing conflict in Ukraine, which has only further highlighted the fractures.


Fractured series painted naturally on ice
Part of the 'Fractured' Series by David Popa.


Popa embraces this cyclical process and the lack of control over the fate of his works, which he preserves only through stunning aerial photos. Broadly reflecting themes of existence and time, some of his murals, like 'Prometheus' and 'Remnants of the Past', also emphasize shifts in aesthetic impulses. Mimicking Greek sculptures, the works appear washed up on shore, drawing connections between antiquity and today and the differences in how we perceive beauty.


Works of art Prometheus and Remnants of the past
Works of art 'Prometheus' and 'Remnants Of The Past' by David Popa.


One of the things that makes Popa's work so compelling is its universality. The themes of impermanence, transience, and the beauty of the natural world are universal, and Popa's work speaks to audiences around the globe. This universality has allowed Popa to showcase his work at international exhibitions and festivals, further expanding his reach and impact.

More About David Popa's Art

Despite the ephemeral nature of his installations, Popa's work has a lasting impact on those who experience it. His installations are often captured in photographs and videos, allowing them to be shared with a wider audience and inspiring others to create their own works of land art. Additionally, his installations often require the assistance of volunteers, creating a sense of community and collaboration that is rare in the world of contemporary art.


David Popa is the creator of this art piece named Redemption
This creative piece is called 'Redemption' by David Popa.


David Popa's land art installations are a testament to the beauty and impermanence of the natural world, to say the least. Check out David Popa's full portfolio!


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