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© 2019 Stiliana Alexieva.  All rights reserved

ARTIST STATEMENT

From an early age, I was tutored by my father Jordan Alexiev, the renowned Bulgarian artist and sculptor. My training includes printmaking, computer design and later film and television. For a while, I had my own TV show on Bulgarian television. Since moving to the UK I have made a living from my art.

 

The experience of living through the collapse of communism left me free of convention. I don’t allow myself to be restricted to any particular media.

 

I am an artist who relishes experimentation and evolution. My work is about the sensual, tactile empathy I have with my materials. I create depth and texture using all manner of available modern materials - acrylics, wax, oxidants, combined with the glistening, translucent wetness of glaze and resin.

My Seascape work has been influenced by thoughts on the energy, power and processes of natural forces.

 

The roots of my Paper Art flow from an interest in the optical constructivist work of the South American group of artists GRAV, GRAV, which included Jesus Raphael Soto, Carlos Cruz Diez, Julio Le Parc and Francois Morellet and the German artist's group ZERO, founded by artists Heinz Mack and Otto Piene. To their fascinating interpretation of art, I bring my own sensual tactile empathy with materials and urgency of adventurous experimentation. I see my work as a medium of engagement and as an evolving language between me and the world.’

I like their compelling abstract patterns of moiré and dazzle, the contrast of foreground, background and depth that creates an exciting confusion. The uncertain frontier of perception, the birth of new shapes resulted from fusion and relationship of foreign patterns excites my imagination in a real and concrete way. My recent visit to the first large- scale historical survey in the United States dedicated to group ZERO, 'ZERO: Countdown to Tomorrow, 1950-60s' at Guggenheim Museum, strengthened my deep admiration of the pioneering nature of both their art and their transnational vision.

Sometimes my work is ambitious to be new, innovative, unique... At other times, it is happy to be inspired by others, to morph previously created ideas and to digest them with my own associative thinking, to result in a new evolved ’breed’.Example of this is my Moiré work ‘Soto-Twombly’ (see Archive).

Some of my recent work explores the idea of finding a calm resolution by morphing an object to exhaustion and destruction. I am absorbed by the notion of change and the thrill of a balance between permanence and impermanence of shape and form. Example of this are my book studies where books are guillotine sliced, folded, beeswax ‘mummified’ and forceshaped. Once messengers of thoughts and stories, the pages are transformed into abstract geometrical presenters of shape, form, composition and messengers of new concepts.

Through creating short-lived collapsable book sculptures, I explore the notion of the ’present moment’. The books take an articulated structure whose concrete way only exists in the hand of the artist and for a short period of time. I can interpret this as a physical metaphor of the spiritual Buddhist wisdom that I recently studied while living in a monastery in Nepal. It speaks of time as an illusion and of the ‘Now’, nested between past and future, ‘as the most precious thing, as it is the only thing there is’.

 

By erecting shapes and letting them go, I create a metaphor for the present moment, but also I challenge the viewers' attachment to permanency and impermanency. I play with the idea that the only permanent thing in life is Change. The foldable sculpture concept and the participating image of the hands in the pieces creates a flirtatious resemblance with some of the works of Ligia Clark.

The book studies I would like to be seen not only in the context of my own work but also against the background of all the efforts that artists made, in the wake of Futurism, Constructivism and Dadaism, to question the traditional structure and function of the book and turn it into an autonomous object. Examples range from Sonia Delaunay's book fold 'La prose du Transsibérien et de la Petite Jehanne de France' of 1913, Alison Knowles' 'The Big Book', Dieter Rot's books and sausages 'Literaturwurste', the assemblages of a book form made by Wolf Vostell, Bernard Aubertin's 'Livre Brûlé', of course not forgetting Franz Erhard Walther, 'Werksatz' and Hubertus Gojowczyk's library door bricked up with books 'Door to the library'.

Paper is also present in my Optical Constructivism works. Through them, I explore the consequences of compulsive, obsessive and repetitive processes of assembly and disassembly. Through a logical and illogical application of repetitiveness, I look for organic evolution of the piece. In contrast to the optical paper constructions that demand the attention of the viewer, I see my aluminium seascape work as a romantic escape from reality. Through them, I aim to satisfy my own desire for serenity and if they evoke the same feelings in the observer, then I have created not just a painting but an experience... Directly or indirectly, I see my deepest personality shining from them.

 

Like all artists, I am unconsciously externalising something deep within myself and possibly something that is most vulnerable. What that something is, is often obscure and I believe cannot be approached directly. If this is attempted the result is often a false pretence. The works of John Constable RA, J. M. W. Turner, and Fred Cuming have been a source of my everlasting inspiration.

Retrospection of my recent works will inevitably find a communicating theme of a search for differences in the sameness, for chaos in order and order in chaos. I intend it to be intuitive, easily accessible and ‘married’ to everyday life. I like things that are real, in front you, organically performing what they can and representing moments in time. My work is not shy to look spontaneously assembled, charged with the stroke of a last-minute inspiration.

 

I have always been fascinated with texture, rawness, time-tarnished surface, earthy looks, ageing chemical reactions and metal reflections. In that respect, seeing in real the recently displayed work of Anselm Kiefer at The Royal Academy of Arts touched a chord with me. His way of using organic material components to represent tortured memories that leave a lingering, somewhat metal taste in the viewer's mouth is a style and concept of work I very much associate with and would like to evolve and develop in my own way.

 

All my attempts to create work on a flat surface inevitably find a way to grow in a 3-dimentional concept with various reliefs and effects. I like my work to linger in shape and concept between painting and sculpture. It may easily be dismissed by some as decorative. But within it is a tight muscle of a material concept. A bit like the workings of a machine. Perhaps this flows from the practical materialism of my youth under Communism.

 

In 2013-2014 I lived and worked in Mexico. This awoke a fascination for the South American optical kinetic artists of the 1950-60s which I am impatient to develop further. Picasso had an epiphany with African art, Henry Moore with Mexican art. I believe I had my moment of epiphany with South American op art.