INTERVIEW | Albena Mihaylova: Marble flames revisited

Albena Mihaylova with her
5years old daughter Sofia
in the premises of the
Greek Marble Initiative
Thursday, July 21st, 2016 - Albena Mihaylova is Bulgarian sculptor and painter born in Targovishte on 1966, now lives in Sofia and works both in Sofia and worldwide. She is a graduate of the College of Fine Arts and the Academy of Fine Arts, and holds a degree in Fresco and painting. She has shown her works in 14 solo exhibitions from 1995 till 2010 in Bulgaria, Germany and UK. In addition, she has participated in several group exhibitions worldwide; among them she has shown her works in Germany, UK, Switzerland, USA. Mihaylova joined the Greek Marble Initiative during its first Symposium, in the summer of 2013 and she is now an associated member. Her works have been awarded international prizes and can be found in Public and private collections worldwide.

Interview in Paris Kapralos

- When did you realize you want to be an artist? Was it sculpture from the beginning, or your served in some other genre of art first?
I never thought I will be an artist actually I was artist by spirit since I was very little.  I’ll tell you a story which made me an artist. Since I was 6 I was intending English lessons in one school twice a week.  I was about 11 years old when during the lesson our teacher asked who wants to draw the cover of the English book on the black board, next door class, because they will have a special visit. I raised my hand; I wanted to escape from the lesson. Later my teacher told my parents I have a drawing talent. She asked them if they want me to intend drawing lessons, because she can recommend me to a friend of her. I didn’t learn English well, but with a help of this lady I become an artist. I finished the High School of Art I wanted to be a painter. I was accepted painting at the National academy of Arts in Sofia. After one year of study I thought that will be very boring to study one and the same thing for 6 years, there was no challenge for me and I decided to move to different specialty – Monumental Art. Sculpture was not a love of first side, painting was my first love. Stone made me love the sculpture, like a love which comes later in life and stays forever.
A monumental sculpture of the "Flames" series, created during the 2nd
International Symposium of Marble Sculpture of the
Greek Marble Initiative in the summer of 2014,
in Souroti, Thessaloniki, Greece. 

- Please elaborate a little bit on the "Flame" sculptures...
“Flame” becomes a powerful symbol. That’s why  symbol has been adopted worldwide as an emblem for different events as Olympic Games, brands, commemoration and in art as adopted as an abstract perception, magic and power. I usually create the image of flame that grows from an ellipse, concentrates in the middle and spreading as small flames at the end - as an abstract replica from the nature but in marble. The marble should be well polished so when the light reflects on the stone, the viewer to have the filing that the flame is moving.

-Apart from the obvious, which other stages than the actual sculpting of the stone does the creation of a sculpture involve? How do you "study" your subject and what kind of preparation does it require?
Somehow my previous answer covers this question. I like to observe and to choose things from the nature of created by people who become a somehow symbols. Apart of my theme “Flame” research, I have Arch or Gateway sculpture theme which was very interesting for me when I started to make my research or study, starting from ancient times till nowadays. At the moment I study a new theme which I would like to keep as secret to the audience at the moment.

- Do you think there are things to be gained by your contact with other artists? Do you consider participating in more symposiums in the future?
Every contact not only with artist could enrich my persecution towards things. Living together with another artist-sculptor is a challenge and blessing at the same time. This helps me to see art also from his point of view and somehow this contributes to my art. I would like to participate to more, let’s say some symposiums at the future. My free time is in a good way limited from the care of my 5 years old daughter, and I prefer to choose symposiums where I can go with my family.



- How familiar are the people of your country with sculpture? Do they welcome the contemporary forms of sculpture? What is the degree that the tradition of your country influences your work?
People in my country are like people everywhere. Some of them welcome the contemporary forms of sculpture others don’t. Recently in the center of Sofia was placed a sculpture of Bulgarian King Samuil. The creative decision of the sculptor was that the eyes of the King to fluorescent during the night. In every kind of media was written why this κιτς is there and who allowed it to be there. Thousands of people are gathering together to see his eyes illuminated at night. The fact-good or bad is that this sculpture ”κιτς” is the most visited sculpture in Sofia.

- What different aspects of your creation of art does the painting covers which sculpture does not, and vice versa?
Both are inseparable part of me, but the approach is different. The presses of creating an oil painting is more relaxed, mistakes are changeable. I have big respect of stone. Creating one stone sculpture I have to be 100 % alert my senses has to be awake, because I can be easily hurt by the machines I work with. If I am not careful I cloud make mistake by cutting the stone not the way I want and this is not reparable and cause changing of the composition and initial idea.

- What would be your advice to a teenager who would tell you he/she wants to be a sculptor?
To be very patient, because ideas can come early in life but may come later. To study very well the working techniques. If he/she chooses to work in stone to treat the stone carefully as its very precious crystal vase which can be damaged easily.

EDITO Οκτωβρίου 2016 | Το Αύριο και το Σήμερα της Τέχνης στην Ελλάδα

Γιώργος Καραφωτιάς, Άτιτλος πίνακας, Λάδι σε καμβά.
H Ελλάδα παρουσιάζει πλέον σημαντικό καλλιτεχνικό δυναμικό στις εικαστικές τέχνες, το οποίο δυστυχώς παραμένει υποπροβεβλημένο, σε σύγκριση με άλλα είδη καλλιτεχνικής παραγωγής. Συν τω χρόνω οι νέοι Έλληνες καλλιτέχνες διαμορφώνουν αυτό που ονομάζουμε νέα Ελληνική εικαστική ταυτότητα. Το ζήτημα τώρα είναι η επαρκής υποστήριξη της. Μέσα σε μια εξαιρετικά μικρή και καθόλου αναπτυγμένη αγορά, οι νέοι έλληνες εικαστικοί  καλλιτέχνες συχνά ασφυκτιούν.

- "Κρίση",  θα πείτε και θα γυρίσετε στο άλλο πλευρό. Εδώ όμως θα έχετε κάνει μεγάλο λάθος, και ο ύπνος σας δεν πρέπει να είναι καθόλου γαλήνιος, διότι σύντομα θα αντικρύσετε μία στείρα έρημο, και, το χειρότερο είναι, πως δεν θα πρόκειται για έναν εφιάλτη, αλλά για μια πραγματικότητα χωρίς προηγούμενο. Μάλιστα, αυτό το ενδεχόμενο καθίσταται πιο τραγικό, αν αναλογιστείτε  την ποιοτική αναβάθμιση των νεότερων Ελλήνων καλλιτεχνών. Σε αυτή έχουν συμβάλει τόσο οι Σχολές Καλών Τεχνών της χώρας, και νεότεροι σε ηλικία καθηγητές που είναι μέλη ΔΕΠ και διαδάσκοντες, όσο και ιδιωτικά ιδρύματα με σημαντική δράση με υποτροφίες και προγράμματα, που βελτίωσαν θεαματικά τις "παραστάσεις", το γνωσιακό και το εμπειρικό επίπεδο των νέων Ελλήνων καλλιτεχνών.

Μόλις όμως οι σπουδές ολοκληρωθούν, ο νέος Έλληνας εικαστικός καλλιτέχνης έχει να αντιμετωπίσει μία ζοφερή πραγματικότητα. Ο χώρος της τέχνης στην Ελλάδα δεν έχει τους μηχανισμούς να προβάλλει νέο και μη ήδη εγκαθιδρυμένο περιεχόμενο από την πρώτη δεκαετία της χιλιετίας και εξής. Οι ελάχιστες χιλιάδες αποδεδειγμένοι φιλότεχνοι, και οι λίγες εκατοντάδες μικρότεροι ή μεγαλύτεροι, πλην όμως σοβαροί συλλέκτες, δεν επαρκούν για να συντηρήσουν, πόρρω δε μάλλον, για να αναπτύξουν την εγχώρια αγορά. Αυτό που προβάλλεται ως εκλεκτικισμός από πολλούς, είναι πρόφαση εν αμαρτίαις και όχι επιλογή: η κεντρική σκηνή της Τέχνης στην Ελλάδα δεν έχει ισχυρό έρεισμα σε "λίγους και καλούς", αλλά  μικρή αποδοχή από όλους. Ελθούσης της κρίσης η αγορά δεν στέναξε, διότι δεν πρόλαβε ούτε στεναγμό να βγάλει! Άλλωστε, ήταν ήδη ημιθανής χτυπημένη από την διεθνοποίηση των αγορών, την αυξημένη προσβασιμότητα όσων πραγματικά αναζητούν και συλλέγουν τέχνη σε πηγές στο εξωτερικό, και βρίσκουν πληροφορίες στο διαδίκτυο. Εδώ και 5-7 χρόνια είναι πανεύκολο να εντοπίσεις εκλεκτή τέχνη στο Facebook, στην πλατφόρμα Saatchi, στο Behance Network ή/και αλλού, να μάθεις και να κανονίσεις την επίσκεψη σου στις μεγαλύτερες Art Fairs του  κόσμου, να αποκτήσεις τέχνη είτε για ευχαρίστηση, είτε ως επενδυτικό αγαθό, ορθολογικά τεκμηριωμένη και επαρκώς πιστοποιημένη.

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