Petar Pironkov: Painting is an indescribable magic

Art, unlike other human activities, comes close to the divine

I want people to immerse and find themselves in the piece, because an artwork is more than meets the eye. As human beings inhabiting a world that is utterly mercurial and full of easily accessible information, we have realised that our senses are limited. We sense a different presence and seek it out, we communicate on an energy level. We are creatures of energy; we produce spiritual energy.

Mr Pironkov, what can viewers expect from your new exhibition in Smolyan, which opened on 28 July?

It is very interesting. It is an artistic event at the City Art Gallery in Smolyan, in the wonderful setting of the Rhodope Mountains. The show will remain open for two and a half months and covers my latest creative period. The themes and subjects in it explore the idea of man set in absurd worlds, executed with a typical Bulgarian painting style.

How many works have been selected?

The pieces on display are 40, spread over the entire third floor of the gallery. They all represent monumental compositions with no specifics in terms of place, atmosphere and even country.

What is the idea or emotion connecting these paintings?

The exhibition does not have a common theme. Each piece has its own way of making an impact. I was looking to portray this expressive, surrealistic world we live in. Viewers will be able to identify themselves with each painting, and yet these works can represent any location in the world, no specificity. The common denominator is the painting style, the unique kind I am looking for. The idea is to paint a picture in a way that even I could not replicate. These are personal creations born out of my search for worlds that are different from each other. There is not much of the present day in them because we live in an absurd world.

You say that painting has no messages, just suggestions and impact. What would you want people to feel when looking at your pictures?

I want people to immerse and find themselves in the piece, because an artwork is more than meets the eye. As human beings inhabiting a world that is utterly mercurial and full of easily accessible information, we have realised that our senses are limited. We sense a different presence and seek it out, we communicate on an energy level. We are creatures of energy; we produce spiritual energy. The mission of my art is not for people to understand or like it, but to prompt a spiritual state that makes up the fibre of the world that the viewer observes. My paintings are a universe, there is nothing coincidental about them and they are not ephemeral, they are not about everyday life.

Painting is thrilling. I do not strive to be liked or understood, because once I am not a mystery my works cease to be art. Art, unlike all other human activities, comes close to the divine. If you figured out God, you would not need him. It is the same with painters. The moment the audience sees through you, they no longer need you. No one cares about an author who is a read book. Everyone wants to see something that has never been heard or seen. My paintings are a moment frozen in time, a personal one. Every visitor will find that divine space in one or two paintings that have a particular impact on them. It is divine as regards the human spirit and not the senses.

Is there a subject, place or object that has bene especially influential in your work?

I use symbols a lot, especially human symbols. This is called associative painting. Even though the human body is portrayed, it is constructed in a very academic method. The story is boiled down to symbols so that the viewer can be engaged in an associative experience. This is what an exhibition is. The audience participates in the whole show only when they are able to ponder the content, be intrigued. Painting is unique, it is eternal. Once it blooms on a canvas, the picture is immortalised.

What is the most often used subject in your paintings?

It is the modern woman who has evolved to reach many elevated states. The most explored theme is the human presence in an environment that is divine - it renders the human spirit more beautiful, while the reality is quite different.

They say that kids often outshine their parents. Have you ever been driven to surpass your father's achievements?

This is for people who like rankings, comparisons and words like surpass. I have had the fortune of living and communicating with great authors, still have. In every genre of art, I believe being an artist is a way of life, something that you need to embrace as a child and zealously maintain, because everyday, life comes at you in waves. Having a different viewpoint is hard to explain to your kids or your spouse. It is not easy living with an artist, because we inhabit our own little world, which is incomprehensible to others.

When did you know that you would become an artist?

I have been painting and doing exhibitions since childhood. You feel it, the important thing is not to try and do everything.

Have you experimented with other genres?

I do a little bit of everything, but I keep it to myself. I have a warehouse - printing, sculpture. Painting is an indescribable magic. The feel for painting is a rare gift and you cannot afford to be mercantile or irresponsible with it. The other genres do not give me the same thrill.

You do exhibitions all over the world. Do you see marked differences between audiences from country to country?

I think that art impacts every person irrespective of their nationality. And this in itself is simply wonderful.

The interview was originally published by Sofiapress.

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Petar Pironkov was born in 1977 in Sofia. After graduating from the National School for Fine Arts, he studied Painting at the Accademia Di Belle Arti in Rome under Prof. Alessandro Trotti. He has numerous solo and group exhibitions in Bulgaria and abroad. His works are owned by private collections in Italy, Bulgaria, Greece, USA, France and the UK. He is the son of the prominent Plovdiv artist Encho Pironkov.

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