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Artist of the Week — Valeriy Poshtarov

June 11, 2012 by · 1 comment

Natalia Nikolaeva talks with Valeriy Poshtarov

Translated by: Maya Mircheva
Edited by: Lauren Sophie Kearney

Photography means learning to see again.
Aba Assa

When I first discovered Valeriy Poshtarov’s photographs, I was very impressed by his work. It was like pieces of a jigsaw puzzle, pieces of history, filled with emotional intensity. Afterwards, I discovered his paintings and ceramic works as well.

He graduated with a major in plastic arts from the Sorbonne in Paris but he remains linked to Bulgaria, the Rhodopa Mountain and Varna. His work can be seen all over the world. He exhibits most frequently in Louale Gallery in Paris together with Nikola Manev.

The Art Bridge

What does art give to you?

Or rather, what does it take from me? Personally, I hope it is the latter. The battle is only worth it when I fully devote myself, like the legendary people who built the foundations of churches and bridges. Every artist is, at the same time, a voluntary victim.

When are you happier: while you are creating or after your work is completed?

I do not strive for perfection, or for the perfect picture. A piece of art has to show emotion and not just decorative value. I don’t make wall paper and I am often tired of my pictures when I see them completed.


What is it to paint?

It is like speaking a language that you invent as you speak.

Entering Jerusalem

What talent would you like to have?

I like singing. I bought a bag pipe but unfortunately I don’t seem to be very good at it.

The guitar teacher with his daughter

You work in different media. Do you have a favorite medium and if so, why?

I think that if the approach is right, the medium is not important, even if I can’t do photography and fine art painting at the same time. With the former I am fixed in reality and with the latter I and the canvas before me are reality.


Photography is concise like poetry, but making a good picture takes longer than making a decent painting. But still, I have a confession to make – real freedom is the ability to constantly question yourself and this happens most elaborately in fine art painting.

Jean-Jacques Levy

Which art has the greatest impact on you?

Music. I doubt there is a purer form of human spirit.

You graduated in plastic art from the Sorbonne. What lesson will you never forget? What did this education give you in a personal and professional plan?

The best lesson I ever had was in ninth grade in geography class. I was doing a crossword puzzle and I was missing the capital of one state. I asked the teacher and she said “I don’t know; there are encyclopedias for that.”

Since then I never look for meaning where there is none, even in art. However, if I ever have talent, Paris gave me the benchmarks.

Do you prefer portrait photography and if so, why?

My love for photography goes back to my childhood when I was looking through an old box of my grandmother’s pictures. On one of them, there was a picture of a woman with piercing black eyes and long black plaits. I asked my grandmother who she was but she had forgotten.

On the back of the picture there was a sentence written in pencil: “I give to you my face because time passes and people get forgotten.”

Portrait photography is an imprint of time and even a portrait of time itself. Only portrait photography can become a symbol – a really successful portrait is like an icon that relatives kiss and adore. What is even more exciting is the portrait of a stranger that you meet and get to know.

What do photography and film have in common?

It is definitely the plot, the story. A film or a photograph without a story is like a bland dream that we don’t remember. Abstraction in photography is like the contemporary realism in fine art.

What is your favorite city? How do you feel in Paris? Tell us something about your gallery there?

Every city has a different message. And Paris is like a hundred cities all in one. Recently, a friend told me that richness is reflected in diversity. Actually, this is very logical but most of us don’t realize it.

Three worshipers

In Paris I mainly concentrate on my work and I find refuge in it because the ‘eternal capital” is too saturated with events, memories and shadows of people long forgotten or long remembered. People flocked there from all around the word who had forgotten why they are there and where they are going.

All this gives the impression that the restless souls are not alone and that humanity has long been on the same strange road.

As for my gallery in Paris, this is the gallery that I work with and where I often exhibit my work. It is called Louale Gallery. My friend and colleague, Nikola Manev, has an exhibition there next week.


I’d rather call Kavalet gallery in Varna “my gallery”. It was founded by my father, Valeriy Poshtarov Sr. Of course, in recent years I have enjoyed working with him as an author.

What inspires you? Is there a theme in your art that you are currently very interested in?

The Man! Yes, it is definitely the man.

Apostles and anarchists

What do you think of emigration?

I have never considered myself an emigrant and I don’t like this label. I think it is a name for a group of people who have become socially and culturally assimilated in a foreign community and I find this an act of betrayal. Our world is free enough and it does not need a common denominator. I love Bulgarian ex-pats but not the emigrants of Bulgarian “origin”.

What works will you exhibit in Berlin in September 2009?

I plan to show some of my big format famous photographs, but also ceramics and fine art paintings, which I am in the process of creating. This will probably be my first multi-medium exhibition, so I am curious about the result from this almost absurd interaction.

What do you dream of?

I dream of a real creative community of artists and not pseudo-unions and associations with administrative and capital purpose. I don’t believe in the mandatory artistic loneliness.

Valeriy Poshtarov was born in Dobrich in 1986 where he lived for the most important seven years of his life. He is the son of the poet Elka Nyagolova and the galley owner Valeriy Poshtarov Sr. So he grew up in an artistic home. His house is famous among artists’ circles as the “Rose house” is a meeting place for artists and writers from all over Bulgaria.

In 1993 he moved with his parents to Varna where he studied at the National Art School “Dobri Hristov”. During this period he participated in several biennales and exhibitions, mostly with photography, where he won two prizes – in Bulgaria and Croatia.

He moved to Paris in 2005 where he attended the Sorbonne with a major in plastic arts. During this period he studied classical French humanistic photography from the middle of the last century and exhibited in Paris, Frankfurt, Sofia, Plovdiv and Varna.

He has participated in more than 25 exhibitions in Bulgaria, France, Croatia, Serbia, Hungary and Ireland.
Currently, V. Poshtarov Jr. works mostly in ceramics and fine art and lives his life between Paris, Varna and the Rhodopa Mountain.

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