Valchan Petrov is one of those artists who do not need literary exercises to build legends about his name. Far from the noisy public rhythm, Valchan has built his world at the foot of the Rhodopes. The Thracian wind barely carries the confused chants of modern man, and his home resembles an early Christian temple built on the foundations of a pagan sanctuary.
Facing the courtyard gate, one sees a long twine that leads to a large and heavy bell. This is the bell. The remote voice of Valchan is heard. After a wait, he appears – sowing something at the top of his garden.
“I make my paintings with love,” says Valchan.
He is not in a hurry to finish them. He works slowly and without thinking whether he will sell them. He enjoys every image that comes out of his brush, because even for him he is a surprise. He has been working for many of his paintings for years, and sometimes it takes months to complete the background of some figural composition. Whole civilizations are born and die in his works, and during that time the seasons change in his garden.
Valchan has his own favorite paintings, with which he does not want to split himself. In them, he usually discovered a new painting technique or other technological process he wants to build on. As he says – “I must be able to control the process.” Every detail for him is important, and the slightest cracking of the ceramic reliefs, which are almost always present in his works, is deliberately achieved.
I would not want to do a boring art-studded analysis of his work, but I will introduce an important remark to my next narrative. Valchan Petrov works above all mixed techniques on mixed surfaces. The base of a work can be built simultaneously on canvas, wood, ceramics and metal. This allows the shaping of many composing centers or paintings in the picture. Many of the painted plots remain hidden behind a small loophole in the work itself; often these sacred mysteries are plot antipodes: from the front we see a Christian motif, and in the rear a pagan, front canonical image of a saint and behind the door – the battle for the soul of the saint led between angels and demons.
Behind such a door I saw the images of his collectors, whose heads were surrounded by haloes. I laughed and told him:
“Bravo, Wolf, the patrons became rare as saints!
“No,” he says. Haloes are actually an image of the human aura, and all people have an aura. We just do not see it.
In fact, such an inert interpretation of his plots can lead to confusion. Many of his figurative compositions, which are present as separate elements in his works, are as it is expressed “canonical,” but the common to the church dogmas would be only the utterance built on the duality of the world in which we live. Behind this seemingly scholastic approach lies an autonomous build of the messages in which the artist asserts his freedom.
However, if we think freedom is a fundamental value of our European culture, we will come to other absurd contradictions. Valchan has recently been invited to present a major exhibition in January 2014 at the European Council in Brussels. In the days preceding the event, a responsible bureaucrat from the institution expresses its disagreement about presenting paintings in which naked bodies are present. He says their chest needs to be closed. This ridiculous act of medieval ignorance does not offend Valchan, for whom the world of contradictions is a major inspiration. He uses all his wealth of technical means to build a bras of flowers. The exhibition is presented and, in the eyes of the senior dignitaries of the Directorate-General for Culture and Communication, the truth has a new face – that invariably cold show of a hypocritical European bureaucrat. Beauty is not a privilege for all. Wolfman picks up his paintings and takes off his bras.
Nearly 15 years ago, Valchan Petrov staged another exhibition in a beautiful medieval castle in a European city. At the exhibition, a Bulgarian consul arrives, drinks, has a meal, does not say a word about the exhibition, does not greet the author, but with a full mouth says:
“Get you tomorrow at some cheap stores?”
“I have brought expensive paintings,” says Valchan. Do not drive me through cheap shops, and bring me rich collectors.
For good or bad, the world is full of contradictions, and Valchan will draw inspiration from him.