From the 70's to the 90's, Ion Barladeanu created art. The son of a staunch, abusive Communist organizer, he left his Romanian village for
If they'd found out about his "movies" - still collages created from magazine clippings, they'd have killed him.
Homeless for over two decades, doing odd jobs for a maintenance man in a neighbourhood where he's barely tolerated, Ion continued his art. But he showed nobody. His fear of being caught by the communists too great. When the regime fell, he still kept it his own.
The World According to Ion B. is a documenatary about this artist. In 2007, another artist was digging through the same garbage as Ion and was shown his art. He quickly went to a gallery owner and over 900 pieces, the life's work of an artist, was ready to be shown to the world.
The movie itself is serviceable. Like many documentaries, it's the subject that makes it. Barladeanu is charming, amusing, likeable, and irascible. A drunk, an artist, and an incredibly blunt person, Ion is the movie. We get a glimpse of the artist as he struggles with his new fame. As the director said after the film - "You can't take someone who lived like a dog for 20 years and expect him to be normal."
His art is regularly shown, and it is brilliant. Pop art, Dada, shades of Warhol, and even bits of 16th century artist Hieronymus Bosch show up... and he's never heard of any of them. A pure artist, without training, and without the influence of the art world. What was on his cardboard was what he wanted to say. The pieces speak for themselves. In many cases, they are "his movies". Entire stories told in a snapshot.
An online exhibit of a small sample of his work can be found here.
900 pieces over 3 decades. 160 additional ones in 2009 alone - his discovery re-energized this 63 year-old man, and his tale is worth 61 minutes of your time, if only to discover a new artist.
*Thanks to the commenters who pointed out the confusion on cities beginning with "B". At least it didn't say Boston.