Dimo Kolibarov is one of those artists who moulded the image of contemporary Bulgarian graphic art from the 1990s to the present day and presented it at international forums. His figure stands out with his qualities as a talented artist and a successful lecturer at the Graphics Department of the National Academy of Arts. He is part of a powerful generation of graphic artists that changed the plastic language and reformulates the perception of graphic art in the context of Bulgarian art from the end of the 20th century and the beginning of the 21st—artists such as Kolyo Karamfilov, Onnik Karanfilyan, and Stefan Bozhkov, among others. Numerous national and international awards are a major recognition of Kolibarov’s achievements.
He creates works, rich both in size and artistic value, using the techniques of etching, aquatint and lithography. Dimo Kolibarov cultivates a precision of detail, a steady hand and an acute sensuousness. After nearly 30 years of involvement in the field of graphics, the artist handles the opportunities offered by the technique in a virtuosic manner. In his precisely executed graphic sheets, each element has its own natural place and symbolic meaning; however, despite this analytical nature, the work does not lose its spontaneity of expression.
The artist builds a specific compositional scheme in which he layers two compositions one on top of the other to achieve a sense of timelessness and cyclic recurrence—a subject matter upon which he arranges an infinite composition of floral elements. In the first layer, he creates generalised images of different temporal layers. The floral elements of the second layer are a symbol of nature and its laws. This characteristic approach of layering the imagery creates the historical patina in which the works are immersed.
In the major graphic cycles, ‘The Diaries of Konstantin’, ‘Gravitation’, ‘Return to Nature’, ‘The Icarus Diaries’, and ‘The Diaries of a Child’, the main focus is on the themes of human doubts and aspirations, the fear of transience, and man’s striving to turn the moment into eternity (‘Vanity I’, ‘Go Away, Don’t Go Away’, from the ‘Gravitation’ Cycle). The mythical heroes from ‘The Icarus Diaries’ develop into the characters of everyday life in ‘The Diaries of Konstantin’ and ‘The Diaries of a Child’. The theme of childhood and love is inspired by the artist’s son, Konstantin, to whom several exhibitions have been dedicated. His is the tender image of the child in the oeuvre of the artist that develops in parallel with the physical growth of the prototype.
In ‘Portraits’, by using graphic- and photo-transfer media, Dimo Kolibarov creates a series of group photos, that did not in fact take place, of the great graphic artists Rumen Skorchev, Mihail Petkov, Stefan Markov, Simeon Venov and Borislav Stoev. These works are a sincere gesture of gratitude to the ‘aristocrats of the spirit’, as the artist himself calls them. He adapts the means of photography, but, in principle, is moderately conservative with regard to new technologies. He remains faithful to the manual approach, because the drawing is underpinned by emotion, while the idea takes priority over the form.
Dimo Kolibarov’s contact with young artists as an associate professor at the National Academy of Arts enriches and stimulates continual change in him. The teaching profession has developed a tolerance and respect for the personal creative field. Having worked with students for nearly 20 years, it is most important for him to avoid creating followers, but to reveal and support individualities.
Dimo Kolibarov’s exhibition at the National Gallery within the ‘Bulgarian Artists Today’ programme presents the most important works of his creative development and emphasises his place and significance in the context of contemporary Bulgarian art.