Past Imperfect,

Romanian Film Festival
4th edition
26-29 April 2007

Curzon Mayfair
38 Curzon Street
London W1J 7TY

Paul Neagu – Heart of the Tornado

Documentary / UK / 2004 / 26 min / colour
Directors: Laurentiu & Agnieszka Garofeanu

The film was produced with financial support offered by the Ratiu Foundation UK.


Paul Neagu (1938-2004): sculptor, painter, poet, larger-than-life character. Neagu settled in Britain in 1970 and embarked in a remarkable career as an artist and teacher. Laughing in the face of the Establishment, Neagu even formed a fictitious art group (Generative Art Group) which exhibited regularly. Influenced by Structuralism and philosophy, Neagu’s art worked with the Word for an even deeper impact. But this great speaker is silenced one day, in 2001, by a cerebral attack that leaves him aphasic. The ones to speak for him now are his works, his friends, and his former pupils...

Directors’ Statement

“Paul Neagu was a controversial figure in the British art scene, a teacher and inspiration to some of the most successful contemporary artists: Anish Kapoor, Anthony Gormley and Rachel Whiteread. We were lucky enough to meet and gain the trust of this mystifying man. This film is the record of the last year of his life and an emotional journey of film-makers getting closer to the artist and the core of his work.”


Laurentiu Garofeanu graduated from the Academy of Fine Arts in Bucharest, specializing in painting and photography. He is currently living and working in London.

Agnieszka Garofeanu is a Polish artist and graphic designer living and working in London.


The film was screened at Gallery@49 in New York and Slade School of Fine Arts in London, and broadcast by the Cultural Channel of the Romanian Television.


Every biographical documentary needs to find its own style, by attending not only to the intimate profile of the person portrayed, but also to the circumstances of the shooting, and to the type of relationship established by the filmmaker with the subject. In the case of the Garofeanus’ film, those circumstances included the rapid deterioration of a flamboyant artist who was also a “difficult customer” (as former ICA director Bill McAllister describes him), and sadly, his passing away during the shooting. Due to that, Neagu’s profile had to be composed mostly out of the accounts of those who had intersected paths with him at various moments in his career.

The presence of Paul Neagu in the film is sparse but intense and powerful. There are also moments in the film which testify to the close communication of the artist with the couple behind the camera. Every biopic is said to need a core scene that ‘sums up’ what actually cannot be summed up – the moving contours of human personality. In Heart of the Tornado, that scene could be the one in which Neagu walks followed by the camera, points at a road sign and says, “Asta vreau” (“This is what I want”).

The sign reads DIVERSION. (A.B.)