Thursday, December 28, 2006

Art Space Talk: Lyuba Zahova

I recently interviewed artist Lyuba Zahova. Lyuba is a painter from Bulgaria. In September 2006, Lyuba Zahova represented Bulgaria at the international art festival in Monastir, Tunisia. She has concentrated on a painterly technique and is interested in the physicality of paint. She utilizes this skill to create modern compositions.

Lyuba has stated that art for her is a way of living, a fight for a better world; overcoming the impossible; a protest against the negativism; a search for beauty and perfection; lifting up to the truth of God, to achieve understanding and harmony between the people. Thus, she is interested in creating paintings that are focused on the purity of painting itself. She is interested in the process of painting.

Lyuba has exhibited since 1980. She has also work as an art instructor and director of a fine art gallery in Shabla, Bulgaria. In 2005 she published her first book, 'Born Near the Lighthouse', which featured her poetry and paintings.

Q. When did you first discover that art would be an important part of your adult life?

A. "Since I was a child, I was delighted by the books with colorful illustrations. I was copying the drawings and dreamt of becoming an artist. I’ve never given up my dream. The thirst for beauty flows in my veins. I’ve been working towards it my entire adult life. The art became my way of life, I breathe through it."

Q. How has creating art shaped you professionally and personally?

A. "The art has fully shaped my personality. It gives me power to live and move on. It trained my personal discipline and proactive attitude towards reality. It has shaped my view of life and worldly philosophy. It has made me a perfectionist."
Q. How has society influenced your art? Are there any social implications in your art?

A. "Two thirds of my life had passed during communism. It is normal my art to have social traces. Not accidentally, the dominant color in my first paintings is red. This represents my protest against social iniquity."

Q. What are your artistic influences? Has anyone inspired you?

A. "I had studied art from the Russian painters. In my early works I was strongly influenced by the landscapes of Isaac Levitan, Valentin Serov, Ivan Shishkin. I have continued with the impressionists, I like Paul Cezanne, Vinsent Van Gogh, Paul Gauguine. From the Bulgarian fine art I’ve drawn experience from the Great painter Vladimir Dimitrov – The Master. I appreciate the contemporary Bulgarian fine art, especially the artist Dimitar Kazakov."

Q. Tell me a little about your background. Are your past experiences reflected in the work you do today? If so, how?

A. "I was born on the Black sea coast in Shabla, Bulgaria, on 27th of February 1952. My father was a farmer and an extremely diligent man. My mother was a very skillful craftswoman. Both of them died in their early 60-ties. I still remember the private land confiscation in 1956 and the police gun on my father’s temple. Since that time I feel that gun on my temple too. I had also buried two of my sisters who were unable to adapt to the harsh reality. To me, God has given the power to hold on. My entire life is a fight against iniquity and this is seen in my early works."

Q. If you could pinpoint the characteristics of people who collect your art, what would they be?

A. "Till 1989 I worked as a fine art teacher and director of the Fine art gallery in my home town Shabla. From 1990 till 1992 I’ve been painting in Germany where I found many connoisseurs for my art. After the democracy break in Bulgaria, I came back to my country but the art market was ruined down completely. This was the hardest time in my career. It is just now with the development of the economy and before our entry in the European Union, that the art market is opening slowly. Only the well-off people or collectors are buying art in my country. I think art is not affordable for the average person. To understand and buy a real art you should be above the materialistic world."

Q. Discuss one of your pieces. What were you thinking when you created it?

A. "“Touch” created November 2006
The painting “Touch” is an illustration of the poem “Late Love Dates” for the talented Bulgarian poet Plamen Lakerov. I’ve created it while listening to the music of Jean Michel Jarre. It shows the love pain and searches of the ‘Other’ beyond oneself. The love is a break in our earthly world and therefore brings resistance and pain. Only the God’s beauty and love aren’t an illusion, because they belong to the world of freedom. This is how the pain reaching the sky transforms into music. In the painting the gaps in the time and the heart are represented as strings. And you can hear the cosmic music! And the sidereal moment is the ‘Touch’."

Q. What is your artistic process?

A. "The process of creating an artwork is very spontaneous with me and depends on the feeling I wake up in the morning. I will stand in front of the canvas only if I am in good condition. I’m painting with inspiration, stroke and huge internal power. The purity inside the artist is very important in order to freely recreate the truth."

Q. Why did you choose the medium(s) that you use?

A. "My means of expression are determined by my temperament and character. I have to be real and actual in my works so my message can reach the people. I am a dynamic person and I’m
frequently changing my working style. I’ve been through several periods using different means of expression and this change is a feature of my self evolution."

Q. Do you have a degree or do you plan to attend school for art? If so, how has it helped your art career?

A. "The academic training gave me the theoretic foundation, but in actual fact I am very self-dependent. I have worked out my own style with hard work. The artist should be always actual so he can respond to the current events in time in his own way, he has to be an individualist."

Q. Where can we see more of your art?

A. "In my working studio and of course on my web site at"

Q. Are you represented by a gallery? Do you have any upcoming exhibits?
A. "I do not have a special gallery to represent me. My daughter Zornitsa is my manager and is dealing with all my public appearances and sales online. I am planning another solo exhibition in the beginning of next year."

Q. What galleries have you exhibited in?

A. "My paintings have been exhibited in various galleries - private and public in Dobrich, Varna, and Sofia, Bulgaria, the castle of Augustusburg, Germany.

In 1990 I had my first solo exhibition in Schwalmtal, Germany.
In September 2006, after my participation in the International Plastic Arts festival in Monastir, Tunisia.

The technology evolution of our time has made it possible for me to exhibit my paintings at many online art galleries and be a part of the World Wide Web in real time."

Q. What trends do you see in the 'art world'?

A. "The tendencies in the world art are positive, but quite drained out. They are connected with the technological evolution, a reason to run to extremes. For me the art is vivid and of use when it derives from life. Especially vital is the African art, where people are closer to God."

Q. Any tips for emerging artists?

A. "Apart from the theoretic and practical knowledge, the young artists have to develop their values on solid life philosophy. They have to fight for a better world."

Q. Has your work ever been censored? If so, how did you deal with it?

A. "There was a censorship in Bulgaria during communism. It happened to me. Artists who were not members of the communist party were condemned. To have a talent was not enough. The regime needed people without any personality to support it."

Q. What was the toughest point in your career as an artist? Have you ever hit rock-bottom?

A. "The most difficult time in my career were the years from 1992 till 2004 when my country was through transformation which affected many artists. There us no demand for art when the nation is hungry. As you can see I’ve waited a long time to come up again…"

Q. In one sentence... why do you create art?

A. "I create art because I love!"

Q. Can we find your art on MYARTSPACE.COM?

A. "Yes, just type my name in the site’s search engine!"

Q. What can you tell our readers about the art scene in your area?

A. "The Bulgarian fine art has a reach history of original artists like Zaharij Zograf, Nikolay Pavlovich, Nikola Marinov, Nikola Petrov, Vladimir Dimitrov – The Master, Tsanko Lavrenov, Ivan Milev, Dechko Uzunov, Zlatyu Boyadzhiev, Stoyan Venev.

The contemporary Bulgarian art is on a world level – Bulgaria has very talented artists."

Q. Has politics ever entered your art?

A. "After the launch of democracy in Bulgaria, politics no longer influence my art. Anyway I stay an artist with a proactive civil position."

Q. Is there anything else you would like to say about your art or the 'art world'?

A. "The art for me, is an expression of feelings, a fight for a better world and overcoming the impossibilitie. A protest against negativism and a search for beauty and perfection, lifting up to the truth of God in order to achieve understanding and harmony between mankind.

My name means Love and this is my message to the world!"

I hope that you have enjoyed my interview with Lyuba Zahova. Feel free to critique or discuss her art.

Take care, Stay true,

Brian Sherwin

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