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What matters the most is to put love and desire in what you do

December 10, 2009 by · No comments

An interview by Mira Dimova with the sculptor Anatoli Monov
Translation: Maya Kolarova

Anatoli Monov
How long have you been making these small sculptures?

After I graduated from the academy in1996, Professor George Chapkunov was my tutor. It was very hard in the studio. In the beginning there were no conditions on me, and I attended whenever I could. I worked alongside with him, I helped him and that is how he involved me in the working process.
Little by little I began to get into the swing of the work and I understood that in fact I have wanted to do something like this for a long time–I just did not know what that something was. He literally showed me the charm and the magnetism of this type of sculpture – the manufacturing of small sculptures  – and the soul, of course, that shows when a man puts a part of himself in his work.

Anatoli Monov

Is it possible for a man to manage this job himself or is it better to find somebody to guide you?

There is always someone outside who lends a hand – it’s hard on your own. But when a person seeks, he finds. And when he is ready, the things align.

Do you find satisfaction in your work?

I am happy that I manage to make what I want even though I have so little to do it with. It is hard to earn a living. We survive, but mainly the work is for the soul.

People are not merely a body, fed on daily bread – there should be something for the soul. It must be satisfied by finer things, and that is how we reach the spiritual. That is why I try to filter out what I’ve already done and always be trying new things. Currently I work in jewelry, but I have been occupied with construction and who knows what else.

 Anatoli Monov

The technical school I attended in Kunino – for stone processing – it was related to building. We studied columns and their elements, arches, the classic things from ancient times–even cemeteries and grave stones. All this is a part of my profession, so a great range of working processes are familiar to me. I have a bent for it, in general. But I enjoy working with the small sculptures most.

 Do you display your work somewhere?

Not for now, it is difficult. Recently there was a Christmas exhibition market, and my works stood there for quite some time and afterward I took them in. I do not work with galleries. With random people, familiar people, close people – that is the way my works find their place – wherever they were meant to be…

Anatoli Monov

I haven’t made a personal exhibition yet, but I have participated in multiple shows and also in outdoor painting meetings in Denmark and Italy.

At the beginning I was a bit skeptical of the idea of publicizing myself on the Internet, but now I am happy I’ve done it. I feel it could bring good results in the near future.

What kind of materials do you prefer working with?

All different kinds, from stone to metal. I love wood as well, but lately I focus on bronze and  brass, because I have the environment to work with them.

Let me show you a few things.


This is a pear, I do not know why I begin with it… but the pear represents… a female butt. It is meant to be humorous. In fact, it was inspired by a commercial – “the season of the melons.”

I asked myself, “Are these people so incompetent that they can’t come up with something more serious?” On top of it all, they had used a cardboard drawing (very cheap looking) and I thought, “Why don’t I make the season of pears?”


This is “The stairway”. It’s Smirnensky’s—it refers to a poem of the Bulgarian author Hristo Smirnensky. Here on top there is a tiny body, which reminds me of the human remains of degradation. I wish it would always remind a person that he must not focus too much on his accomplishments, and to remember who he really is. Even now when you read this poem it is still awfully topical, as if it was written yesterday, for us. 

This was made out of rubbish though – when the wax is melted in order to dry the form, the leftovers absorb into the water and they make different forms. Afterward, I compose from these forms and make things I like, in addition to the things I usually use.

 life comes from life
This is from another book that is spiritual—Life Comes From Life – that is the title and I decided to make something to illustrate it. Something about the fact that life is never-ending, that it never stops, that it has always been primary, and eternal – this is what the little eggs, or the egg in which there are other smaller eggs, symbolize.

They are free and they move – one could play with them…as one plays with life, actually. Shells… hollow shells.

Adam and Eve

This is “Adam and Eve”. It is really about the snake – that it always exists, and Adam and Eve – they are us ourselves, they are everywhere around us.

Anatoli Monov

I have always been drawn to touch the figures, especially the metal ones.

Yes, indeed, the metal has a unique sensation–it absorbs the information, all these vibrations that pervade it during the work, and it becomes pleasant to touch even though it is metal. Likewise, the stone – well prepared, processed and polished, it becomes wonderful to touch as well as to look at. The perception is more detailed. 


This is a column which is not very pretty, but it reminds me of our country – it exists, it is beautiful, it is ancient, and it is patched here and there so it won’t fall apart. It is also hollow – the drum of the column can be removed. The culture of this country is indeed ancient.

May I try to take the needle out?

Yes, yes, you may. That is the reason it is called “Ouch”. There is always some sort of pain when a person is healing but that is a good thing, there should be a way to save the day and it is connected with suffering. This is what I have tried to symbolize with this column.

Can small forms carry big messages?

This is my idea – when you make something, don’t do it for the mere sake of doing it but rather to say something with it. Because this is one of the ways a person can communicate where maybe others can’t. And it is something alive which you could see and touch. This is what I try to do.
Anatoli Monov

Do people understand what you want to tell them?

I was definitely surprised by a friend whom I have known from my years as a student. I was much less mature then. He is from Varna, also a jeweler, a very spiritual person.

He liked my works very much and I did not expect that from him because we hadn’t seen each other for a long time. When he told me he bought a lot of things I was surprised and I was very pleased. At the time I was making a fountain in Kozloduy.

Afterward, when we met, he told me about the good impression my works made on him, how much he liked them and how they appealed to him mostly because they struck him as very understanding and perceptive of the life we lead, for the time in which we are situated.

And above all, there is this striving for creativity and there is none of the “re-doing of the re-done” or a repetition of the same things. Otherwise, it is clear that there isn’t that much  more new to say, so it is important how you are going to say it and in what way… 

new year

Here is a form which I could not finish. This is a copper plate and on it I put a woman who symbolizes the New Year. Her pregnancy is now beginning to show. There is a sky, and she is expecting her time to come out and that is why she is not completely nude. The only parts that can be seen are the face, part of the breast and of the legs.

Here, again, I have used remains from the wax that has melted, and the modeling is barely an intrusion.

Can you explain more about the process of crafting the figure? What are these waxes?

The process is complicated and the explanation would take a lot of time, but briefly it looks like this: the figure is first made out of wax – beeswax, which when held in the hands for some time absorbs the temperature of the body and becomes like plasticine. Afterward the figure is packed in plaster and it is put in the oven to dry.

Anatoli Monov
The high temperature melts the wax and it leaks out. The molten metal is poured in its place. After that the plaster is broken and the metal remains.

A long process, indeed, but surely that’s what makes the product good?

Yes, because it is always different. I try not to make the same old things, to do something original each time. A big part of the process is mental – a process which entertains you but also has this end result.

safety pin

I will show another work that is not finished – it is a safety pin – this is my signature. As my wife, Miglena, says, ‘You have pinned yourself, you have limited yourself.’ I say that when a man wants some kind of certainty – to secure himself – he seeks a way and does it. And I decided that this safety pin is one of the ways.

And is there something else you would like to be occupied with? Or something that you desire and haven’t achieved yet?

Music. I enjoy it when I listen to it. It is also a great source of inspiration. It creates the right atmosphere and makes me feel good. It must be appropriate, of course, according to the mood.

african girl

Here is a black woman. She was made using the wax process. She is draped in a sheet and is another figure that has her butt showing. There are tribes in which women tighten up their necks with different decorations, I believe.

I put rings on her neck like the African princesses have. For these women, if a ring breaks, the neck breaks. But I find beauty in that, just as there is beauty everywhere.

walking stick

Here is a walking stick. The upper part can be removed. In the office, when my colleagues saw it, they joked, ‘Is it an ugly witch?’ ‘No,’ I say, ‘this is her husband.’ It is quite official – it has to look good in the eyes of people even if it is funny.

Where do you find your inspiration?

On the inside. I think this is God’s work. A human has it in him. When a man leads a spiritual way of life or is at least interested, it is something endless—not like matter, which is limited in space and time. That is why I say there has to be hope and I give myself courage that there is always something to say – it is infinite.

Still, are there periods when you have no ideas?

The ideas come from life. For example – an idea occurred to me – that everything has to be under some kind of control and if the things in the mind are not being controlled, then it begins to control us and we are under its influence and impact.

under control

It is good if the mind is our friend, under control. We should not always give it what it wants because it is like a child – it has to be taught to behave and serve us. It is very powerful and it can play a lot of tricks – both good and bad.

So, to control the mind and to direct it in the right way is very difficult. But when a man succeeds, he understands how much he can do.
Thinking about these things, a man always has something to say.

 Anatoli Monov

Photos: Mira Dimova and Kamen Ferdinandov

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