Public Republic random header image

Svetlana Gencheva: “The most wonderful thing in the world is the world itself!”

April 1, 2009 by · No comments

Natalia Nikolaeva’s interview with painter Svetlana Gencheva

Translated from Bulgarian by Velina Vateva

The pure gaze of a child quickly grows dim under the influence of ideas, prejudices and abstract notions. The natural and free human being puts on the heavy armor of the Ego. Only after many years do we instinctively realize that the lifesaving feeling of magic has been wrested out of us. The sun shines through the pine branches and all of a sudden, in a moment of beauty and unfamiliar pain, something pierces our heart, as if we have remembered Paradise. From that day on… we become seekers.

Peter Mathisen

Svetlana Gencheva’s paintings are filled with the mood of searching and discovery, but also with the joy of creation – which, according to Bergson, is the characteristic of creativity. They hold something optimistic, sunny and reminiscent of a child’s smile.

My virtual meeting with the young painter happened a few days before her exhibition of oil canvases, named “Essence”, which opened on February 16, 2009.

It is such a pleasure to speak with a person, whose artistic nickname, Sunny, completely reflects the way Svetlana perceives the world, her deep need to create beauty and magic and to paint the world with such great fantasy and love.

Dandelion Wine

What does painting mean to you? What would you compare it to?

Painting is like a walk with your best friend at sunset. To me, it is a way of living and a cure for every pain. Painting means love.


Do you have any favorite illustrations?

I was browsing through the book collection of a friend of mine’s grandfather recently. He had been collecting them for many years. Most of them were highly valuable, with embossed leather covers, and crumbly yellowing pages. Each of these books holds the story of itself as well as of the people it belonged to. Their illustrations profoundly impressed me.

I would really love to see the original illustrations of Arthur Rajhaim’s Alice in Wonderland.

Why do you love drawing caricatures and cartoons?

The sense of humor really matters. Caricatures are my way of joking. Facial features say so much about one’s character and when you come to know somebody well, you could draw their portrait, having in mind their funny features.

Last Love in Constantinople

Which is the best compliment someone has made about your paintings?

The last complement that impressed me was that my paintings exude some innocent eroticism. These words really impressed me a lot, because if it is true, it means I have fused two paradoxically incompatible things in one painting.

But the most precious possible compliment about a painting is that it inspires.

The Witch of Portobello

Which of your personality traits best helps you in your art?

There is not any specific trait helping me paint. The personality of each of us has advantages as well as disadvantages. But if I did not posses some of my traits, my paintings would not be the same for sure. For example, I can be too sarcastic in life sometimes, but this stamps the paintings with subtle irony, which, after all, seems to give a meaning to it all.

However, patience and persistence are obligatory for every creative artist and necessary for every painter in particular.


Your forthcoming exhibition shows 20 oil canvases related to literary texts. Is it often that literature inspires your paintings?

In general everything inspires me, not just literature. However, literature is a specially powerful generator of ideas. Reading triggers imagination and it holds the potential for so many images; in fact, whole worlds you can build all by yourself.

Even though my painting is spontaneous and I discover that what I have painted reminds me of… a book, for instance, only after the fact. I paint something and then I see what it is. My love for books and my literary sense comes from my father, a writer of historical novels.

When I was in third grade, he told me the story of one of Stephen King’s novels, Firestarter. If he had told me a children’s story, perhaps I would not have been that impressed, but that’s what he told me and then I voraciously began reading everything Stephen King had written.

I have always asked my father to give me suggestions of what to read after that. Literature is magic – you find yourself in a world someone else has invented, but you are able to change it, to be a part of its creation. The possibility to catch the essence of these worlds and to build on them is deeply inspiring.

Margarita’s Smile

Milorad Pavic, Laura Esquivel, Paulo Coelho and Jordan Radichkov – these are the authors whose books have impressed you most deeply. Which painting in your forthcoming exhibition is the closest to your worldview and why?

In general, I like everything fairy and fantastic; everything that takes me away from everyday hustle and bustle and send me into a world unrelated to the quandaries of everyday life. Perhaps that is why most of the writers I love gravitate toward magical realism.

All of the 20 canvases reflect some part of me, but the painting that says the most about me is “Dandelion Wine”. Maybe because it expresses nostalgia for my childhood and a certain determination to keep the childhood naturalness in grown-up kids. I have borrowed the title from Bradbury’s novel.

The Book

How do the different artistic media you use – graphics, painting, illustration, animation, and sculpture – come together?

All of them reflect one and the same thing. As a matter of fact, I really know what I want to do and where I am going. As a teenager, you are aware about your interests in a very general way, after that you start thinking about where your heart is. The artistic profession provides you with a very broad field of opportunities. In fact, you could change your area you work in every year.
I like fashion as well; I am interested in what happens there, but as a woman more than as an artist. Appearance is really important, however, it is not the most important. Fashion inspires me, but for me that is not enough.

Every area is like a level of your education – you do the same, you create forms and visions and the direction is the same.

Like Water for Chocolate

You told me about the delight you find in animation and that you dream of producing the scenic design for a puppet theater. How would those endeavors enrich you as an artist?

Producing a puppet show has been a dream of mine for a long time: the stage design, the puppets and the décor. My graduation thesis was a set of puppets for a puppet show. I deeply love this art and want to be a part of it.

Puppet theater draws together almost all the arts – theater, music, creative movement, expression, and sculpture…

And the most wonderful part of it the audience, since children’s audience is really a blessing. If you ask a child anything, she will tell you the truth right away. I majored in Children’s Design for a reason. I told myself back then: this is the right thing for me.

Everyone expected me to study literature, but I wanted to paint. I dreamed of making puppets, theater, games, animations…


What do you dream of?

I dream of having an exhibition in Prague. Prague is my favorite city, with an atmosphere you can find nowhere else. I dream of traveling, because the most wonderful thing in the world is the world itself!

Tender Presence

Svetlana Gencheva – Sunny was born in Sofia in 1981.

She graduated from National Academy of Arts in Sofia with a degree in Children’s Design (2005) and Advertising Design (2007).

Her first artistic endeavor came while she was still a student in the St. Methodius German language school in Sofia. As a student at the Academy, she participated in numerous exhibitions along with other artists.

At the present time, Sunny works mainly in the field of advertising graphics and she also teaches at the Department of Visual Arts at the New Bulgarian University in Sofia.

Related posts ↓

No comments so far ↓

  • Nobody has commented yet. Be the first!