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Australian art

Contemporary art

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Negru III (A candle in a dark room), from the series Negru



Aida Tomescu

Romania, Australia

03 Oct 1955 -


Tomescu’s drawings are characteristically gestural and layered, and occasionally include collage. She first began making pastel drawings on prints in 1986 while producing etchings with printer John Loane, as a way of maintaining her continuity of thought during the printmaking process. Later, however, they became an independent part of her practice for a time and she had etchings specially printed for drawing on, as she was attracted to their surface quality and the contrast this made with her drawing materials.

Tomescu’s drawings are an open-ended form of inquiry into the process of drawing itself, in which the interaction of marks and surface are poetic and allusive, rather than representing a narrative. Stemming partly from earlier works such as her ‘Negra’ series of lithographs, 'Negru IV' and 'Negru III' are from a group of works made concurrently in 2002 on the theme of blackness – ‘Negru’ is the Romanian word for ‘black’. Of these, four became the 'Negru' suite that includes this diptych (of the others, 'Negru II' was gifted to the Gallery in 2003, while 'Negru I' remains in a private collection).

The series was triggered by the memory of a powerful small painting by New Zealand artist Colin McCahon (1919–87), 'A candle in a dark room' 1947 – a work that was itself inspired by McCahon’s meeting with a poet. While the drawings complement each other and were dependent on each other in the drawing process, each ultimately can be seen as individual works of art.

This work won the Dobell Prize for Drawing in 2003 and was acquired by the Gallery in 2003.


Place where the work was made

Sydney New South Wales Australia



Media categories

Print , Drawing

Materials used

white pastel, charcoal drawn on lift-ground aquatint, printed in black ink on paper


123.0 x 80.0 cm sheet; 134.5 x 91.5 x 5.0 cm frame

Signature & date

Signed and dated bot.c., black pastel "ACT '02".


Gift of the Trustees of the Sir William Dobell Art Foundation 2003


Not on display

Accession number


Artist information

Aida Tomescu

Works in the collection



Where the work was made

Shown in 3 exhibitions

Exhibition history

Referenced in 13 publications


Elizabeth Fortescue, The Daily Telegraph, ‘Battle lines drawn as some see the light on artwork’, pg. 11, Sydney, 13 Sep 2003, 11 (illus.). Tomescu is pictured standing in front of the work.

Hendrik Kolenberg and Anne Ryan, The Dobell Prize for Drawing: 1993-2004, ‘Prize winners’, pg. 15-39, Sydney, 2004, 37 (colour illus.), 50, 54.

Hendrik Kolenberg, Look, 'A fine harvest of drawings: legacy of an exceptional draughtsman', pg. 28-31, Sydney, Nov 2011, 30.

Hendrik Kolenberg, Look, 'Drawing conclusions', pg. 14-17, Sydney, Sep 2006, 17.

Hendrik Kolenberg, Contemporary Australian Drawing: 20 years of the Dobell Prize for Drawing, ‘Introduction’, pg. 6-14, Sydney, 2012, 8, 40, 41 (colour illus.), 61.

Susan McCulloch, The Weekend Australian, ‘The perennial power of the line’, pg. R13., Canberra, 25 Oct 2003-26 Oct 2003, R13.

Joyce Morgan, The Sydney Morning Herald, 'Archibald's little sister drawn out of the shadows', pg. 7, Sydney, 12 Sep 2003, 7.

Niagara Galleries, Aida Tomescu, Richmond, 2003, 25 (colour illus.). 20

Cathy Pryor, The Australian, 'Dobell winning 'squiggles' draw criticism', pg. 14, Sydney, 12 Sep 2003, 14.

Campbell Reid (Editor), The Daily Telegraph, 'Child's play', pg. 6, Sydney, 12 Sep 2003, 6.

Michael Stutchbury (Editor), The Weekend Australian Magazine, ‘A thousand words’, pg. 10, Canberra, 27 Sep 2003-28 Sep 2003, 10 (colour illus.).

Jill Sykes (Editor), Look, Sydney, Jul 2011, 41 (colour illus.). reproduction only

Jill Sykes (Editor), Look, Sydney, Oct 2003, 35 (colour illus.).