BUCHAREST, Romania (AP) — Romanian painter Sabin Balasa, appreciated for huge surrealistic murals but criticized for painting former communist dictator Nicolae Ceausescu in a flattering light, died Tuesday. He was 76.
Balasa had been in hospital for a month with lung cancer and died of a heart attack Tuesday afternoon, doctors at the Saint Mary hospital in Bucharest said.
Balasa was one of Romania's most prominent artists, gaining notoriety after he painted Ceausescu and his wife Elena in the 1980s. Critics said he contributed to Ceausescu's massive personality cult.
Ceausescu and his wife were executed after a summary trial during the anti-communist revolt of December 1989.
Balasa's fame and success continued after communism ended. He was often commissioned to paint murals on the walls of Romania's newly wealthy.
Big companies, public institutions and universities also commissioned his art. Some said his style often depicting naked women and fictitious animals was kitsch although his work was instantly recognizable.