Pulvis Art Gallery
Tears, idle tears, I know not what they mean,
Tears from the depth of some divine despair
Rise to the heart, and gather to the eyes…”
Alfred Lord Tennyson
Nikolay Abrashev drew inspiration from Fauvism,
Expressionism, Cubism and Futurism to create his unique artistic language. For the
here presented portrait of a mother breastfeeding her child is an exemplary
piece of Abrashev’s talent to reimagine the complex techniques used by some of
the essential modernist movements that shaped the spiraling uncertainties of an
epoch caught between two world wars.
Thus, as the eye deciphers this work, composed from various
geometric shapes of pulsating color and sharp borders scarring the canvas’ surface,
it is confronted by a process of a radical deconstruction of the image. Or to
put it in other words, the viewer is confronted by the emotive content of Abrashev’s
work, which can be described as a feeling of an almost unbearable tectonic
friction, of a constant dissonance of form and its representative
Furthermore, the work
doesn’t give the eye a sense of place, a sense of where the mother and child
are. It is precisely for this reason that the tension and dissonance succeed in
formulating the work’s radical epochal statement. It is a message to a world that
has become unable to confine reality in clear rational categories, i.e., spaces.
A historical moment devoid of humanity, of these gentle motherly caresses that can
piously collect the broken pieces of Being and nourish it back to harmony.
White … is not a mere absence of color; it is a shining and affirmative thing, as fierce as red, as definite as black…. God paints in many colors; but He never paints so gorgeously, I had almost said so gaudily, as when He paints in white.
Gilbert Keith Chesterton
Thick white paint covers and affronts the exquisite, ashen black surface
of the canvas creating an amorphous, yet suggestive figure which slowly
disintegrates into an alabaster drizzle flowing downwards, to the very edges of
the frame. It’s as though the image itself, this shape formed in what seems to
be a spontaneous splatter of pure latex, is languidly resisting being confined
within the bounds of the painting’s darkly somber composition. In a sense Kiril
Yakimov has given the white paint the freedom to defy his own artistic vision.
As with all oddly affecting abstract art, the artist has left room for the
materials themselves to, in a sense, “speak” and freely orient themselves
within the aesthetic space he has created. The strange image, resulting from
the unfettered interaction between the paint and the canvas, is subtly and
uncannily reminiscent of a portrait or even an icon. This mysterious figure,
veiled in white, comes off as ghostly and inscrutable, yet the viewer will be
hard-pressed to shake off the peculiar feeling that there’s some secret, or
deeper meaning hidden behind that dense, creamy color. In reality however
there’s nothing underneath, no enigma or revelation. We are left only with the
almost brutal, impenetrable presence of the white paint which indiscriminately
coats and transforms everything in its path. It’s as if light not only wins
over darkness, it consumes and annihilates it – an ominous lesson which gives
Yakimov’s painting not only an eerily apocalyptic dimension, but also the
intensely engaging didactic quality of a long-forgotten parable.
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“The touch of an infinite mystery passes over the trivial and the familiar, making it break out into ineffable music… The trees, the stars, and the blue hills ache with a meaning which can never be uttered in words.”
This candid painting evinces a mystifying simplicity that seduces and centers the viewer’s gaze using only the most minimalist, unadorned and essential visual figures – the circle and the line. Alexander Balkanski has left ample breathing room where his beguiling pattern of concisely drawn forms can fully and firmly stand out without getting lost in some grander abstract landscape. The striking succinctness of the work is amplified by the crude and oppressively white drawing paper whose jagged edges mark out the boundaries of an unsteady and purposefully precarious frame. This torn, barren and milky milieu allows the various formal inflections of black and blue to really pop out and arrest the eye. And when it comes to the structure and composition of these miscellaneous monochrome patterns the painting makes it abundantly clear that Balkanski has a great deal of knowledge about the dynamic, inner workings of form and the ways they can be shrewdly expressed and illustrated. For example we could observe how he’s utilized the black paint to develop a brief, but cogent and precise study of width and thickness and how modulating them affects the force, impact and sheer presence of the lines and dots strewn across the canvass. At the same time Balkanski has chosen to complicate this contemplative examination of different formal modes and brush strokes by centering the whole artistic ordeal around the eye-catching cyan circle in the middle. This inspired aesthetic decision gives the whole work an almost mystical, self-transcending quality which reminds us that abstract art, no matter how formalistic, is always firstly concerned with the ineffable. man’s passionate and plaintive prayer. We may be unable to pierce through the veil of the figure’s forlorn face and infer what her unspoken plea pertains to exactly, but the way her slouching body and concave shoulders are contorted lets us feel the burden she’s wearily carrying on her back. In this way the sculpture expresses a sense of complete surrender and self-abandon in the face of a challenge that is insurmountable without the grace and compassion of something transcendent.
The function of prayer is not to influence God, but
rather to change the nature of the one who prays.
Lubomir Dalchev’s strikingly raw ceramic sculpture reminds the viewer of a pieta without the body of Christ at the feet of the grief-stricken Virgin Mary. With that in mind we could be witnessing the unadulterated depiction of a heartbroken mother’s bereavement or simply, as the name of the painting suggests, a woman’s passionate and plaintive prayer. We may be unable to pierce through the veil of the figure’s forlorn face and infer what her unspoken plea pertains to exactly, but the way her slouching body and concave shoulders are contorted lets us feel the burden she’s wearily carrying on her back. In this way the sculpture expresses a sense of complete surrender and self-abandon in the face of a challenge that is insurmountable without the grace and compassion of something transcendent.
It’s interesting to point out that the hands of the woman aren’t outstretched infront of her or to the sky as one might expect from a more banal representation of a passionate prayer. On the contrary, they are limply reaching for the ground beneath, a sign of complete resignation and frailty. What is more, her reddish figure is deliberately elongated so as to accentuate how difficult it actually is to humbly fall to one's knees and pray when there’s so much pain involved. There always exists the temptation to choose pride over humility, to stand tall in the face of hopelessness but Dalchev’s sculpture shows us that there is strength in asking for help, in giving oneself over to something greater.
“Portrait of Adele”
The desire of the man is for the woman, but the
desire of the woman is for the desire of the man.
Madame de Stael
Reminiscent of Kees Van Dongen’s “Woman with a large hat”, Bencho Obreshkov’s painting is a darkly intimate portrait that creates a sensual, tacitly seductive atmosphere which immediately draws in the viewer. The almost fauvistic use of strong, contrasting colors is alluringly undercut by the thick blacks that contour the expressionistic, dusky backround. The viewer’s gaze is engulfed in a cloak of sultry shadows which bewitchingly emphasize the deep, suggestive reds of the enigmatic woman’s lips and sweater. The aquamarine hat is the only thing in the composition that cuts through the syrupy, dark hues which would otherwise overwhelm the painting and give it an all too explicit, and even decadent, flavour.
By centering the layout of the artwork around this cooler and crisper blue tone a certain sense of amorous ambiguity and playful aloofness are allowed to flourish, making the artwork as a whole more complex and equivocal. The balance Obreshkov has struck between the representation of submarine passions and outwardly coldness is underscored by the fact that the woman is looking sideways in a playful, but also distant manner. This captivating interplay of thick shadows, harshly contrasting colors and minor facial expressions is what makes the “Portrait of Adele” an intricate and sophisticated attempt at portraying how a desirable object’s icy withdrawness can paradoxically enhance its allure.
"With thirst of a secure intelligence,
And sick of other passion, I pursued
A higher nature … "
Boryana Petkova’s “Thirst” is an austere meditation on desire and
prayer. On the surface the painting simply represents a pair of rugged,
outstretched hands beseechingly eager to welcome a cool, replenishing sip of
water. On a deeper level however the artwork can be metaphorically interpreted
not only from the perspective of a simple biological need, but also through the
lens of an existential thirst for something more essential and profound. This
can be anything from love to harmony, or from peace to joy. In fact the
painting isn’t concerned with the concrete form of our deepest desires, but
with our relationship to what structures them – lack iself. Petkova has managed
to capture the whole drama of longing, of patiently waiting and praying for the
appearance of something which can quench our thirst for real
"A creator is someone who creates their own impossibilities, and thereby creates possibilities."
There is a basic question that drives most of Yakimov’s works and gives them their specific allure which one expiriences when confronted by such abstract paintings.
It is a question of the constant sometimes strange interplay between background and foreground that grounds Yakimov’s creative desire. And the case with the here presented “Contemplate” is no different. Even the title of the work suggests it. The viewer is challengeed to contemplate but there are no objects to be contemplated about. On the surface there are only scattered beginnings. Strokes leading nowhere, a line abruptly finished as if only to mark a possible border, a weary white stain, droplets of red and black paint creating a nervous pattern precisely of the absence that has captured the work.
But this is only on the surface.
As the title’s invigorating command provokes the mind to keep searching through the painting, one starts to see the background on which the scattered brushes, dots and stains are carefully positioned. It is actually a photo of a wall that holds the dispersed attempts of Yakimov’s hand. A strange blow-up that reveals the inconsistencies, the fractures of a surface. However, it is the precision of the mechanical eye that caught the imperfections of the wall and transformed them into a surface for painting that unlocks the meaning of “Contemplate”. Thus, Yakimov’s work reveals itself as an experimentation with the possibilities of art to create strangely beautiful doubles – a photo of surface, serving as a surface for a possible artwork.
“Contemplate” is a challenge addressing the viewers’ attention towards the optical illusions and the play of the backgrounds and environments in which people are inscribed. It is a work that reminds us to constantly search for differences, nuances, and beautiful inconsistencies.
"Omen and Oracle”
"Its strangeness is, we might say, due to its very reality, to the very fact that there is existence. The questioning of Being is an experience of Being in its strangeness."
Stoyan Tsanev’s “Omen and Oracle” is a virtuosic display of his skill to extract rich imagery and pose essential questions to being’s conditions.
Here Tsanev’s approach towards the ground of existence is guided by the perennial idea of the intimate yet always problematic relationship between God and Nature.
The forms in “Omen and Oracle” quiver, the colors pulsate as the black lines stemming from what resembles a cellular nucleus unfurl to connect the two sides of the work. Thus, at first the eye is met by this chaotic spectacle of form, color, and line that tries to capture the emergence, the endurance, and the strength of a nucleus.
But Tsanev’s masterful play with meaning becomes even more complex and full of nuance when one notices the barely visible cross on top of what looked like a cellular nucleus and after the noticing can be interpreted as a surrealistic church.
However, the work doesn’t want the viewer to choose between these two possible meanings of center and the associations they carry. “Omen and Oracle” is a work that wants to show the fundamental tension inscribed in every attempt to think about being’s potentials and essence. It is this tension that gives the passion of knowledge, that unlocks human invention and curiosity towards God, towards Nature, towards the ever-expanding meaning of the world.
For this reason, Tsanev’s “Omen and Oracle” is a call for participation within tension, within contradiction. For only within the beauty of paradox, what is true can reveal its infinite beauty.
Vladimir Dimitrov – Maystora
"Faith is not a question of the existence or non-existence of God. It is believing that love without reward is valuable."
One is immediately mesmerized by the overall expressive generosity of one of Bulgaria’s most celebrated painters. Although Maystora is primarily known for portraits that bring him closer to Fauvism rather than Expressionism, “Poppies” is certainly expressionistic for it is a vivid almost pulsating with color work of art.
Here Maystora’s exquisite technique manages to capture the essence of one of the most symbol laden flowers. For it is an essence that comes from existential darkness because poppies were the only flowers that grew on the abandoned fields of war. Within their symbolic core there rest lives sacrificed, lives taken, lives that still stain history. And Maystora (1882-1960) was an artist who survived three wars and was on the front in two of them – the Balkan Wars and WWI.
Thus, “Poppies” can be viewed as a work with a strong biographical element. However, if one stays with such an interpretation, one will miss the fundamental paradox inscribed within the vivid depiction of those war flowers. For “Poppies” is not a dark work. In it there is a lightness, a dreamlike quality that runs through the painting especially in the plain white background that shows the poppies as floating, as if they are balloons crossing clear skies. But it is not a cruel lightness, a lightness celebrating the tragic symbolism of poppies and the scars of a troubled artist.
The actual strength of Maystora’s painting, what overwhelms the viewer is the unbounded joy radiating from these weightless flowers. It is a joy found only in the forgiveness of something as unforgivable as war. “Poppies” is a work of grace.
"Landscape with houses"
“I climb upon the highest mountains, laughing at all tragedies - whether real or imaginary.”
A small village can often be asomber space harboring outdated notions and closed-minded apprehensions aboutthe outside world. Vasil Barakov’s work represents just such a criticalillustration of the more spiritually oppressive sides of rural life. Thepainting is engulfed in a thick, almost viscous darkness which at certain spotscompletely obstructs the viewer's access to the full breadth of the landscape.It’s as if the village is getting transformed into a ghostly and unrealapparition of times long past while being consumed by the shadows of themountains surrounding it. This eerie, disqueting quality is enhanced by thefact that there are no people in the frame and two of the houses occupyingfocal points in the composition are surreally colored in blue and red whichsuggests that this may in fact be a painting of a memory or a dream.
It's also nocoincidence that the only part of the artwork which is relatively suffused withlight is the side of the mountain. This is an artistic choice which exploitsour eyes’ starved search for relatively brighter sections to express thepossibility of transcendence and escape.
Through the act of leaving the villageand ascending the mountain we may be able to overcome the weight of pastburdens, prejudices, and fears. In other words, we may achieve salvation if weare daring enough to brave the steep cliffs of our very own souls.
"The light shines in the darkness, and the darkness did not overcome it."
A drawing of the sea at nighttime inevitably conveys a sense of immeasurable depth, longing and loss. A day has gone by, and the bright reflective surface of the water has become a monochrome void drawing into its submarine embrace the empty, cloudless sky. The golden sands of the beach have absorbed the thick murk which has come down from the heavens and covered the blue expanse. And although the uncannily dark seascape is submerged in blue and unsettled by black abstract shapes, the painting is almost startlingly tranquil and even full of hope. The two golden blotches which conceptually complete the painting’s minimalistic composition create the feeling that even during the most empty, dreary, and melancholic of nights, there’s always the promise of a new day coming engulfed in the sublime brilliance of the rising sun. In expressing this existentially potent insight, Georgi Baev’s artwork opens a way of perceiving darkness as the ultimate horizon of light, as that which will be overcome by the radiance of a life that is yet to come. Viewed in this way the foreboding midnight coastline becomes a space of peaceful reflection and patience. There, sooner or later, a bright light will finally come ashore and bathe everything in gold.
Boris Kolev B.a.i.l.a
I tell you: one must still have chaos in oneself to give birth to a dancing star
At first glance the eye is usurped by chaos. A scattered being frenetically moving across the off-white background of B.a.i.l.a’s work.
But as the eye appropriates itself, as it conditions itself with this two-tone fugue, a certain notion of order starts to glimpse through the uncontrollable abstract landscape. It is the order of the microlevel, the logic of a quantum field, where pulsating particales, captured in black, swirl and scar the white background and finally become visible in their dynamic being.
And as one immerses oneself in such a work, one starts to see the artist’s journey through the commonsensical and the revealing of a deft stroke that isn’t satisfied with the ordinary but is looking for something more complex, a deeper continuum, a paradoxical logic of the world in front of the eye. Thus, when B.a.i.l.a’s work confronts the spectator’s gaze, it shows a long lasting devotion to these strange places beyond the horizon, where being reveals itself as a constant potential for transformation.
Boris Kolev invites us to the beauty of such strange places.