Chavdar Petrov
Moonlit Night
Bulgarian Artists Today

19/09/2018 - 4/11/2018

The present exhibition is the third event in the initiative of the National Gallery, launched in 2018 under the title, ‘Bulgarian Artists Today’.

The artistic world of Chavdar Petrov makes a significant contribution to the panorama of contemporary Bulgarian art. The exhibition includes works created during the current year that reflect a very intimate aspect of the painter’s artistic nature—the childish admiration of his contact with the starry sky, subsequently developed into a full-blooded and inexhaustible source of creative inspiration.

In his reminiscences, the artist confesses: ‘Since I was a small boy, I loved to look at the moon. I remember how we used to sleep outside in the summertime. Grandmother and Grandfather spread out the mats, the rugs on top, and we all turned in. They put us, the children, in the middle. The dogs and the cats were also beside us. I watched the sky, the stars; listened to the song of the crickets, and dreamt of many things. But, I felt best when the moon rose. When there’s a full moon, the nights become magical. The light, the cast shadows give a certain fabulousness to the whole of nature. I do not like sleeping with blinds and curtains drawn. I keep watching the sky, the moon and the stars!’

The paintings are a reflection of the creative engrossment in which the life-giving pulsation of contact with the magic and charm of nature is displayed. They build a distinct counterpoint to everyday perceptions, transporting the viewer beyond the patina of life’s superimpositions. An impactive formal register has been built up, materialising the impulses from contact with the original. The works form a peculiar labyrinth in which the messages, the creative pursuits and the pure pleasure of the contact with the artistic building element are moulded together in an integral unity. In his paintings, Chavdar Petrov achieves a rich rhythm in both the formally plastic and ideologically emotional aspects.

The interplay between line and hue forms a kind of original coordinate system that organises the pulsations of the pictorial matter. The artist unfolds his quests on the boundary between figurative and abstract, where he discovers his own autonomous artistic space. Within this territory, the structure-defining role of the line that brings out the compositional construction, stands out. The arrangement of hues on the canvases encompasses the entire register: from reserved monochromaticity to categorical, contrasting juxtapositions.

The impressive spontaneity of the canvases is due to the sharpness and the distinct pulsation of the expressive artistic gesture, akin to the direct impact of a musical work. It is as if every painting materialises the active processes that take place in the very centre of the artistic universe of the painter. Although transposed to a different thematic key, they carry the sense of the incessant rhythm of the fluvial motion characteristic of the overall outlook of the artist.

For four decades, Chavdar Petrov has defended his creative creed with an unwavering consistency, forming a powerful counterpoint to everything convertible or conjunctural, and to an unprincipled compromise with high aesthetic values. Charged with unceasing constructive energy and preserving the purity of his creative vision, he continues to build his own autonomous artistic world.

Elitsa Terzieva, curator of the exhibition