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Artist of the Week — Nadine

February 20, 2012 by · 1 comment

Violeta Petkova talks with the artist Nadine

Translated from the Bulgarian by Maya Mircheva


Nadine: “Necessity, this is freedom!”

Nadine, tell us why you choose to express yourself through art? You say that you’ve been painting since you were a child. Is this a necessity or a calling?

Whoever you are, if you are led by your soul, you burn and you feel the urge to express yourself. I am a dreamer. When I was young, I would always make up stories. I was a great actress and I was never bored. I always fiddled with something. More or less, all children are like that.

When you grow up, this childish innocence is tainted by circumstances. It turned out that I was very free-spirited, maybe even selfish, and I always managed to turn things my way. I graduated from high school with a business major following my parents’ wish.

3muses n me detail

But it turned out that I was not made for the world of business. So I am extremely happy that I had the chance to go to the U.S. to study art. Necessity, this is freedom! By the way, my parents say that the first item I reached out for as a kid were paints. So, I am definitely not going to be a bank clerk.

bad monkey

I notice that your paintings have a mystically mythological theme: man and animal are part of the same whole. What is the reason for these intertwined elements, this mystery and, dare I say, subdued aggression?

Of course, I never intend to create a disturbing picture. On the contrary, most of the time my mind and heart are light and full of love. But things just seem to go their own way with me. The soul has different levels of energy, so it is perfectly natural for the pain, aggression and the diabolical to surface – all that remains in the shadow.

Blessed iz the sky detail

We often hear people defined through animalistic imagery: someone is a pig, a donkey, a wolf, a snake, a monkey, even a mouse. The truth is, however, that these animals are much nobler than humans. These names are rather superficial observations, but they do hold a grain of truth.

One reason why they appear so often in my works is because I dream of animals all the time: strange beasts and sea creatures. This cannot be a coincidence. The animal or the beast in us is the master of the instincts in our subconscious, which I love to observe. I am interested in ancient cultures, whose connections to animals were inseparable from their mythology and symbols.

Blessed iz he sky detail

Each animal has its individuality. It has mysterious powers, supernatural might, spirit and energy. But it certainly holds a partial identification with the human being. I think that they really reflect our secret motives and our tamed or untamed instincts, what is in our true nature, beyond words. I draw a bird-fish, a werewolf or an owl with human eyes because of this mix of energies. Sometimes I wish people couldn’t speak. Then they would use their tongues just for love songs and war cries.


San Francisco, New York, and Amsterdam – all cosmopolitan, colorful cities. What did you learn by living in each one of them?

When I left for San Francisco I was 18 and far away from home for the first time. I had to live in a female student dorm. This was a big shock, considering the fact that I have always had mostly male friends. So, apart from the fact that there were hobos sleeping underneath my window and I would hang around with people who were trained to fake a smile, San Francisco turned out to be a pretty interesting and safe city.

I went to pubk concerts and the rest of the time I was in school I painted. The Academy of Art college is a great school! In a matter of a year, I made great progress. Now, come to think about it, I want to go back there.
When I first set my foot in New York, it was drizzling and everything was submerged in a mysterious fog.


Immediately I fell in love with the city. I feel strangely homesick and enthusiastic when I think of it, and everything is really like in the movies. Once we were strolling through Manhattan and we found a jazz concert in a little park where even the policemen, who stood on guard, were dancing and having fun.


My experiences in New York and Brooklyn, where I lived for a while, can’t be compared with anything else. NYC helped me to a solid and fast growth and most importantly gave me an identity as an artist. Besides, New Yorkers are a really hard core. I mean, they are incredibly strong and psychologically resilient, extremely ambitious and hard-working and open to the people around them.

Every second person is an artist of sorts… there are many, many interesting people there. Many cultures in one place. I like the fact that they don’t compromise about the way the view reality (which can be hard if you are not a millionaire) and that they openly express their opinion. In other words, they say what they think.

ghetto wizard detail

And, God bless my professors from the School of Visual Arts! Incredible personalities, whom I made friends with and who showed me everything possible that there was to know about art. Oh, how I want to go back there!


I went to Amsterdam following my heart: The city is a fairy tale, and I lived a fairy tale in my personal life, so those five years I spent there were a real bliss. We lived in a house by the canal, we had a boat, I learned to cook and I was painting mostly flowers. I thought Amsterdam was a very peaceful city… perhaps a bit too peaceful.


You live in Varna. What do you think of the local street art culture?

Not much, really. I know a few people who work a lot to maintain some sort of a cultural and artistic life in the city. For example, the INSULA festival recently took place, where Naste and Nychos painted a huge project on a building at the city entrance. Yo Ho Hostel are also great activists.

knife party detail

But it looks like no one really appreciates this. Some time ago, a friend of mine called Varna “the dead city”. Indeed. I don’t know if I am in a position to judge this. Only recently I participated for the first time in Sprite Graffiti Jam (in the framework of FINCITY – the Youth Festival, which is a very big and innovative project in Varna) and the subsequent UNDERART 2 exhibition of street art (which I didn’t even attend).


My impressions are the following: when in a densely populated place there are more emotionally unconscious young people whose only concern is how to get full, get drunk and two other things… the real artists remain either deep in the underground, or they get depressed, or just leave. I don’t know what it is but there certainly is a lack of cohesion between the so called subcultures. For me, the city is empty.

There is not much direct inspiration and if I don’t sit down to work on a street art project… what can I say? I have a great desire to create always pushing from within me. But I am always short of money for paints. Well, I’ll get to that one day.


What does reality look like through your eyes? How would you describe your style through the prism of your own strange and individualistic world?

Oh, reality… hahaha… reality is an illusion! Right?! Really, I just prefer to laugh in response to that question.
At the moment my reality is all about the verb “act”. I have detached myself from all the rubbish on TV, in the newspapers, in the streets. And no, I don’t think that I am in an information eclipse.

I just sit in my studio, doing my thing. And whenever I can afford it, I don’t miss the chance to travel. I mostly travel to Sofia. I love it. I like it there. They have a lot of music events there and that is very energizing. I wish I could go to more of those.

mak white

As for my “style”, I would say that either I don’t have a style, or I have many styles. I can draw a realistic portrait but I can also do expressive gestural drawings with lines and dots. But if I have to put a “frame” on what I do, I would say that I associate myself a lot with surrealism and Dadaism.

There somewhere is also the abstract expressionism which is characterized by a big emotional intensity and anti-figurative aesthetics. Surrealism because I often juxtapose two or more distant realities, colors, shapes and images, like poetry. Dada, because sometimes my “poetry” has nothing to do with regular reality but presents a surprise, a purely primitive mental adventure, which borders on hallucination.


Everything familiar has to be destroyed and rebuilt, in a creative way, in our consciousness.

textile invert

Which is the most unusual thing you have ever done?

Oh, this is a secret! It’s connected with art, of course… hehe


Have you thought of collaborations with other artists, of experimental projects with music? What are your future professional plans?

Oh, YES! Thank you very much for this question! You are reading my mind! I do think of that, I always think. However, I haven’t yet found the artists whom I want to work with. This is because I rarely plan my paintings.
I start with improvisations and avoid the “finished look of things.”

Veritas detail devil hunestry

As a matter of fact, I don’t know many artists and to be honest I also haven’t searched a lot. But with projects like this, if your mentalities don’t fit, I don’t know what’s the point. I also have something with music in mind. Everything has to be free style. This way it is the most authentic, in its purest form.


I am still “fishing,” but I hope to find like-minded people among my musical friends. I know how it should be, I can even imagine with which people I would like to work. Music is my driving force. It is taking me where I want to go. With the energy of those people whom I respect and love, we can work magic! This is my dream right now. Exhibitions are certainly not that attractive for me.

wooden block

I have other projects in mind but because of financial reasons they are still on the drawing board. I also want to make a few sculptures and also make music some day. This will happen.

Would you complete the following sentences:
I love………..
I dream…………..
I see………..

I love – limitless.
I dream – 24/7.
I see – everything, unfortunately.

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