Darida Fine Art Gallery, on the promenade along the Ogden Slip at 465 N. McClurg Court, showcases the work of Alexandru Darida, an award-winning artist who can often be found in his studio painting, creating and absorbing life around him.
“I am here like a beacon,” said the Streeterville resident, who has worked at his studio for thirteen years. “This is an exciting area because the boat tours bring people from all over the world, and they end up passing the gallery. They’ll look at my work. They’ll come in and exchange ideas.”
Darida was born in Transylvania, and he began his artistic journey under the communist regime. He moved to Rome where he was able to explore his artistic freedom and eventually came to the U.S., where he has remained since. “It was meant to be,” he said of ending up in Chicago.
“When we talk about art, all over the world, we find art is the universal language,” Darida said. “It doesn’t need translation. We can admire colors, textures, and compositions. It binds us together.”
Darida’s work has been featured in museums and galleries around the world, and he is the recipient of many awards.
“I’m inspired by people,” he said. “Seeing their reaction to my art, how they admire art. It’s something I really enjoy.”
His studio gallery’s unique location allows passersby to watch the artist at work. According to Darida, visitors are often intrigued by what they see and come in to start a conversation.
“Meeting the artist has a different impact,” he said. “When you meet the artist directly in his element, in his creative space, you understand his art.” Though not every artist is willing to work where people can watch, Darida welcomes the interruptions, which he says, “create a dialogue.”
His passion and expertise is evident as he helps people connect with his work.
“I want my paintings to have energy, to speak to others so they can find a reflection of who they are. I invest in my paintings with that energy, power and aura that gives a way to understand a piece of art,” he explained.
“People feel refreshed after talking to me,” said Darida, who does not want anyone to feel obligated to buy something if they visit him. “Just come in and exchange ideas, refresh your soul. Look at the paintings. Think about your soul and feel that it’s a great moment in time.”
Though the pandemic has had a negative impact on everyone, Darida remains steadfast in his belief that this is a story of survivors.
“If you are resilient and you believe art is the universal language, you can touch people’s hearts with your work,” he said. “And if you touch people’s hearts, that connection stays forever.”