Artist Lyuben Domozetski: I live outside my time

Painting allows me to express my impressions of what's around me, to bring something of my inner world into the physical reality

Nature never fails to amaze me with its shapes and colours. I could spend hours on a meadow somewhere, gazing at a flower that takes my breath away with its perfection, says artist Lyuben Domozetski in an interview to EUROPOST.

In just one year, you were able to prepare your second solo exhibition at Little Bird Place Gallery in Sofia (See here). Where do you draw inspiration in these difficult times, especially for artistic people?

I live outside my time - I do not consume a lot of news and I have little interest in what happens in the here and now. I am not particularly sociable or willing to socialise. I would describe myself as an introvert, but also as someone extremely purposeful about achieving their goals. The past year of emergencies and a global pandemic was actually rather positive for me because, despite the declared states of emergency and lock-downs, I did not give in to the mass panic and what was going on, but instead saw the situation as a good opportunity to focus and work. And that is how I did it.

How are you doing financially? Are you getting any assistance from the government?

This is an interesting question. I work several jobs and that is how I get by financially. You could say I have received support from the government as a public servant (I work at the Sofia City Art Gallery), a PhD student (I was one until recently) and a part-time lecturer for the National Academy of Arts. Now that I think about it, if I had to rely solely on what I make from my paintings, I would be in trouble financially.

What is the story behind the violet growing among armpit hairs in Bloom 1?

The story of the violet or of the artwork itself?

Both, please.

It is a certain kind of violet called viola delphinantha - an extremely rare type of plant, which, in Bulgaria, can only be found in one specific mountain region. I had wanted to see this flower for a long time so I looked for it for three years. The first year it turned out to be a period of heavy rainfall, the second year I went to search for it too late, and the third year I explored the wrong area. But then I finally found it. In other words, this flower has a great personal meaning for me. Painting a violet peeking out among armpit hairs, my armpit hairs at that, was born out of the idea of illustrating the juxtaposition between pleasant and unpleasant. I thought about what kind of violet I wanted to depict. The one we all know struck me as too trivial, which then made me think of viola delphinantha and - to be honest - it seemed almost too sexy. Later, as I was contemplating the composition, I began discovering additional meanings. For example, the armpit is a more or less intimate part of the human body. Most people adhere to the modern stereotype of epilating the spot, believing it a practical solution. I happen to think that the natural state is most beautiful. And so the violet became something of an allegory for the natural aspect of things that people try to change about themselves as they follow externally created stereotypes and trends.

Your works are classified under the genre of scientific illustrations. Where did your interest in insects, birds, plants, etc. come from?

It is more of a scientific interest. Ever since I was a child, I have been intrigued by animated nature. Observing plants and animals brings me great pleasure. It all started with butterflies and insects in general, which have always had a special place in my heart. I wanted to see every single type of diurnal butterfly found in Bulgaria. With time, my passion for scientific research transferred to reptiles, orchids… Naturally, discoveries soon followed. But if I am to be honest with myself, I have to admit that beyond any aspirations of finding a new species, a new habitat of a rare species or a rare observation, I really like spending time out in nature. For one, I believe this is the most harmonious state of being possible, and secondly, nature never fails to amaze me with its shapes and colours. I could spend hours on a meadow somewhere, gazing at a flower that takes my breath away with its perfection.

Your works are strongly influenced by two artistic traditions in particular - Byzantine art and the Renaissance. What is your take on contemporary art and the way it has been shaped by modern technologies?

As I mentioned earlier, I mostly live outside of my time. In fact, I barely follow newly emerging trends or happenings in contemporary art. I view painting as a game, a pastime that should be enjoyable without one giving any consideration to whether it will be liked or not, whether it will be in step with the times or not. I simply try to just have fun. Because of my lack of interest in what is happening on the contemporary art scene, I cannot tell you how it has been shaped by modern technologies.

Artificial intelligence now has the capability of creating paintings. Can robots one day surpass people artistically?

Robots and technologies undoubtedly help. Personally, I often use photographs whenever I do a scientific drawing, for example. But I am of the belief that hand-made art is much more powerful than the one created with the help of a robot or some kind of technology. Nothing can replace hand-made art. It has completely different vibrations, it has depth.

What does painting mean to you?

Painting carries a lot of different meanings for me. It means scrutinising, examining, studying. It is a way to interact with nature. For me, painting entails a lot of research and observation. Painting also requires focus, taking oneself away from the here and now, contemplation, relaxation. Perhaps painting is a reflection of all my interests and pursuits - from the study of art to the love of nature. It is an opportunity for me to express my impressions of the world around me, to bring something of my inner world into the physical reality.


Lyuben Domozetski was born in 1988 in Blagoevgrad. He studied art science at the National Academy of Arts, where he is now a part-time lecturer in art history. He is soon to present a dissertation marking the end of his doctoral study. Domozetski works at the Sofia City Art Gallery. He is interested in zoology and botany, travels all the time and takes photos of plant and animal species in their natural habitats.

His second solo exhibition was opened on 10 February at Little Bird Place Gallery in Sofia and will welcome visitors until 6 March.

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