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Vassilen Vasevski: “Feel in Sync with the Beauty of the World”

March 29, 2012 by · 3 comments

An Interview with Vassilen Vasevski by Petia Hinkova

Edited by: Lauren Sophie Kearney

You define your style as “metaphysical romanticism”. Do you believe that this somehow reflects the time we live in?

I have invented this term myself as an attempt to name the painting style I have been developing. But I also admit there is a strong influence in it from the likes of Brancusi, De Chirico and Modigliani, which are some of my favorite artists. Whether this reflects our time correctly or not, I would say it does to a certain extent, because to me artists are larger than time in a sense that they are the ones who inspire and teach others, sharing ideas that often come from the future.

Photo: Vassilen Vasevski

Photo: Vassilen Vasevski

Do you feel sometimes limited when painting because of your surroundings or for example, because of the American culture?

The American culture provides unlimited freedom as far as themes and styles, so I’ve never felt restrained here. It would’ve been a completely different story if I were to live in France or Germany, I mean, with all of the traditions those countries have. But there is no reason to fear of getting your artistry confined from the culture in the States.

Photo: Vassilen Vasevski

You work as an associate professor in the Foundations department of The Illinois Institute of Art – Chicago. What do you want your students to learn from you?

I want them to know that a great artist needs to be a great human being first, so they have to build themselves as such. How? This could be achieved if you stay open to cultural influences, if you read books, watch movies, go to museums and gallery openings. That’s the only way to find your inner voice and say something people might find interesting or exciting.

Photo: Vassilen Vasevski

There is a belief that the Bulgarian and the Russian schools of art are the best in the world. Is that a myth or a reality?

I personally don’t believe in such statement, because there are plenty of other really good art schools in Europe that deserve acclamation. But from the point of preserving and keeping the teaching traditions of the classical art, I agree: the Bulgarian art school is one of the best.

Photo: Vassilen Vasevski

Photo: Vassilen Vasevski

You have started the group “Bulgarian artists abroad” in Chicago. Tell us a little more about its activities and goals.

Bulgarian artists abroad was founded five years ago to join the efforts of a few fellow artists and to make the Bulgarian culture more popular in the US and in the world. We have already organized 24 art shows, the last one of which was opened this month at The Ukrainian National Museum in Chicago.

Many people think artists can’t work together, but we have proved them wrong. The group offers to each one of us support, inspiration and goals – the very important ingredients of the magical recipe, that each artist thrives upon.

Photo: Vassilen Vasevski

Let’s talk about the process of painting. Are you able to see a complete painting each time when you face the canvas?

I begin most of my paintings with a small pencil sketch and with only a vague idea about how the painting is going to be completed. To keep the process as spontaneous as possible, I improvise on the canvas in terms of colors. This is the process that some of my favorite artists and role models have followed and recommended.

Among them are the Bulgarian painter Yanaki Manassiev and the Greek composer Vangelis. The final stage of the painting should surprise the artist himself. Not being sure of the way the artwork will turn out keeps you interested and concentrated throughout the whole process of creation.

Photo: Vassilen Vasevski

Photo: Vassilen Vasevski

How would you like your public to feel when engaged with your art?

I would like my public to sense the calmness and the harmony radiating from my paintings. It is also my hope that the artwork will help viewers to feel transported to a distant and more beautiful reality, where they will descent into another world of cherished memories, beloved dreams and forgotten expectations.

To make people feel in sync with the beauty of the world, that’s my ultimate goal.

Photo: Vassilen Vasevski

Photo: Vassilen Vasevski

How far could a foreign artist go in America in terms of life and career?

You can achieve numerous things in America, if you are self-disciplined and determined. This country provides endless opportunities for almost unlimited personal growth, but at the end everything really depends on the choices you make.

I don’t regret even for a minute coming here thirteen years ago, because I am the artist and the person I am, thanks to my life in America.

Photo: Vassilen Vasevski

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