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Art gives me the sense of travelling inside myself

March 10, 2009 by · No comments

Natalia Nikolaeva’s interview with Albena Popova

“She indeed was not She
She could talk with clouds
She played at hide-and-seek and
Fumbled the pockets of moods…”

Albena Popova

Our readers are familiar with Albena Popova’s original and unexpected whims, with her artistic surprises, with her collages, the colourful things she creates. Her experiments with words and plastic arts play with fantasy—when the game begins the world is no longer daily and familiar, rather it smiles with more colours; it is an aesthetic and shared experience.

It is a pleasure for me to talk with Albena, a person with many artistic occupations – she loves to draw, work with ceramics, create collages, and writes poems. As an editor of Public Republic, she takes care of the vividness and vision of the magazine. First and foremost, she is an interesting person who believes in the many possibilities of art.

Albena Popova

How do poetry and painting complement one another?

The answer is in the question itself. They complement one another, and penetrate into one another; they are extensions of one another. Thus a mixture of senses is being born.

I often bind them when I make sketches or draft thoughts on the canvas. However, one of them always overcomes and this is the painting.

For me writing is another way of self-expression, while painting is a way of life.

Tell us about your aesthetics? What is art to you?

I love movement. Art gives me the sense of travelling inside myself, to discover new feelings and directions. It means balance, which connects different points in completeness – from the one to the other end of the everyday life.

Art is a different space, where you forget the pettiness and go beyond your heights and barriers.

Do you like reading the poetry and prose of contemporary Bulgarian authors? Do you have any favourites?

I love reading. My favourite prose writer is Agop Melkonian. I have been reading his stories since I was a child. My favourite book of his is, “Via Dolorosa.”

It is a pleasure for me to read the poetry of Elin Rahnev, Todor Kotev, Rumiana Raikova, Julia Radulova, Vera Baleva, Vania Kljucherova, Emi Cvetkova, Geolina Stefanova, Maja Dylgycheva – authors,whose writing catches you with its ingeniousness and atmosphere. I could not list all the writers who have thoroughly impressed me. They are so many.

I am always discovering new writers. It is so pleasant and enriching for people to know different worlds. For me, there are also several important authors from Burgas – Kerana Angelova, Roza Boyanova, Milka Stoyanova, Bina Kals, Elka Vasileva, Ivan Suhivanov, Rosen Drumev, Anelia Georgieva.

Do you have favourite painters?

I love to look at paintings of contemporary art. Yes, I like very much Stavri Kalinov’s works – they express freedom, light, his style cannot be mistaken. His works make me feel relieved.

Dimityr Kazakov – Neron, Georgi Dinev, Kiril Bozhkov, Teofan Sokerov, Stoyan Canev… I could never possibly list them all. There are also a lot of young painters, colleagues, friends and classmates of mine – Teodora Filipova, Maria Aleksieva, Anelia Nikolova, Dora Slavova, Stoyko Daskalov, Daniel Yourdanov, KirilAtanasov.

When do you get the feeling a work of art is precious?

When it reaches me rapidly, it means it has given me its message. I get this feeling when I read a book or look at a painting and my emotions tell me they are close to me, however different and distinctive.

Everyone has a unique meeting with the work of art, his or her own way of interpretation and sensation. Thank God we are different, otherwise the world would have been a pretty boring place for living.

Is it hard to make art in Bulgaria?

It depends mainly on you – whether you feel the need to give birth to a work of yours, no matter if it is a poem, painting, song. No matter where an artist lives, he or she always searches for and finds paths that can lead to creation of what he or she wants.

Passion, imagination and ingenuity are enough for an artist to create something beautiful out of rubbish and useless objects. Recently I came upon the site of an artist, whose works are made out of all sorts of scraps, most of which she had collected from the street!

However, we put the question in another light when we ask whether an artist can make a living by his or her art. That is why there are so many commercial and low-quality works. Here always there will be difficulties, because in Bulgaria everything happens slowly and incoherently.

We lack good agents whose work it is to take care of sales and promotion of our artists. What is more, there are many wonderful artists who are not members of the Union of Bulgarian painters. There are also many artists who are self-educated. It would be helpful if we could establish associations to better unite our various artists—and we need to give our young artists opportunities to participate in national and international meetings.

Why do you consider poetry more challenging than prose?

I love the simplicity of words. For me poetry binds together moments, pieces of emotion, and mirrors paintings… poetry expresses me in a more sufficient way.
Though poetry is a longer journey, I love reading it.

What I love the most are essays, but I prefer writing concisely. However, to write is not a greater challenge than the canvas or the white sheet of paper, which wait for something to be drawn on them.

Indeed I am not sure… Sometimes I gather them as one – painting + words, when I want to express a certain idea or to experiment with a message.

What is your definition of success?

Is there such? I will learn it by heart, if I ought to. I am joking. You can reach anything when you have the will, ideas and talent for doing it, when you work hard… these things now sound banal. However, it depends on how you combine them and how you go forward to make yourself better.
But we must admit success means chance and it is different for everyone. Sometimes the people you live with and the place you live in determine this. Bigger cities give more possibilities for work.

Sometimes it depends on your luck – to be in the right place in the right time, as we say. But in the end it is like this – the most important is what you have reached and your steps ahead to what you do to strengthen these foundations. As long as you have worked on a certain level and you have gained an understanding of it, you are ready to go forward.
And thus, going this way, your chances enlarge.

What about your definition of success in the field of art?

In the field of art it is the same. What you need the most is hard work and toughness, because the harder you work or improve, for all the things you discover and develop, you will also discover and develop new challenges and questions.

By developing them, you already have the capability to form your style, to develop your aesthetic. And you can keep on going like this forever more. This stands for everyone, mainly for the painters.
There is no way for you to create a quality painting, object, or sculpture without having the basic knowledge of technique, and sometimes it is a matter of years to gain this knowledge. For being such a person, you need to “keep on moving” all the time.

Of course, sometimes it is only a matter of luck for you to happen to be in the proper surroundings and this to be your starting point. There is no recipe, however, and the essence is only this– to keep on moving.

Do you also consider yourself a photographer?

It is only a hobby. I am not a photographer indeed. I take pictures because it is pleasurable for me. It gives me relief. I have always loved looking at photos, and never thought I would take up photography.

However, on Christmas Eve, I received my first digital camera. It was given to me with the idea that I could take pictures of my paintings. Later on doing this fascinated me and that is how it all began.

In regard to poetry, do you think our tastes and needs change with time?

It is definitely like this. Each era treasures its actualities and quests. People nowadays live dynamically and it is easier for them to puzzle out dynamic messages – messages that signify the people in the dynamic world.

In this stream of thoughts, it is normal for poetry to change with time. It changes, like every form of art. It transforms in accordance with the times it passes through, carries the time’s messages, gives them a new voice.

All around us we see the “new clothes” of today: these are the graphite that make visible the informal city culture and give sound to the voices of the street; installations that are reflections of the way artists perceive the world today; SMS-poetry; internet.
Time will show whether these “new clothes” are well sewn.

Hopes and dreams?

I dream of more often meeting people who smile. I dream of having enough time for painting without being restricted by the conventions and dramas of everyday life.
I dream of Bulgaria being in good shape, and every person feeling significant, honoured, and proud.

Albena Popova was born in Burgas. She graduated from Humanitarian High School,“St. St. Cyril and Methodius” in Burgas – having studied Sculpture. Later she graduated from The University of Plovdiv, Paisij Hilendarski, with a degree in Fine Arts.

Her interests and work are in the field of Fine and Applied Arts. She has three exhibitions: collage, monotypic, mixed technique. She has participated many times in exhibitions with other artists.
She makes illustrations for children books. She also makes her own ceramics, stained glass, colourful graphics, monotypic. Her works are held by many private collections in Bulgaria and abroad.

For some time she worked as a scriptwriter and for radio as an editor of the children’s program, “South Coast.” She now works in the theatre – she writes scripts for plays for children and plays in them.

She also teaches a children’s fine arts class. Popova experiments with Visual Arts, writes poems and short stories, and has published two volumes of poetry— “Through the Ear of the Moon” and “Sudden Intervals,” awarded the 2006“Ekvalibrium” prize. Popova is also co-author of the volume of poetry, “Those Who Were Born by The Sea”.

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