The Air at the Top of the Bottle

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Ionel Talpazan

October 5th, 2015 · 4 Comments


I was saddened to hear of the death of Ionel Talpazan, who died on September 21 of a stroke, complicated by diabetes. When he was a boy in Romania, Talpazan had an encounter with a blue light, which left him with a lifelong fascination with UFOs. He painted and sculpted them obsessively, often intending them as working diagrams for NASA. He sold his paintings on the street, which was a hard way to make a living. Eventually, his work found its way into major museums and galleries, but he still often took to the street, to his galleries’ dismay. He was never happy with the cut the galleries took, but had no luck selling his work at gallery prices from a card table on the street.

Anthony Matt and I once visited him in his apartment in Harlem. It was almost empty, except for his artwork and a shrine to a beloved pet dove that had recently died. He indicated his obvious poverty, and told us, “I suffer for my art.”

I last saw him at a UFO conference in lower Manhattan a couple of years ago; he was frustrated that none the UFO buffs weren’t buying his paintings.

He did have an audience for his work, though. He received obituaries from NPR and the New York Times, among others. According to the Times, not long before he died, he became an American citizen and changed his name to Adrian DaVinci. He was only 60; he had more to do.

Here are a couple of the paintings that I bought from him on the street. What a funny, sweet, driven man he was. I’m sorry I won’t get to see him again.




(Posted by Doug Skinner. Thanks to Mamie Caton for the photos.)

Tags: The Ineffable

4 responses so far ↓

  • 1 name A Talpazan Tile // Dec 14, 2015 at 3:29 pm

    […] posted earlier about the death of Ionel Talpazan, devoted painter of UFOs. I couldn’t find a small ceramic tile I once bought from him, but I […]

  • 2 Gail // May 29, 2017 at 10:28 am

    The drawings are beauuiful and his new name superb! RIP

  • 3 Gail // May 29, 2017 at 10:30 am

    The drawings are beautiful and his new name superb! RIP

  • 4 Doug // May 29, 2017 at 9:55 pm

    I miss Talpazan. He was a sweet and tortured soul.

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