Last year, for the first time I visited two countries of the former Soviet Union, Armenia, and Georgia. We have so many of our own stereotypes about places we have not seen, and I was no exception. Yet, what I discovered there amazed me. So much of our Western history circles around Western Europe's history, yet there's a world out there that lies East of West Europe, and it is a bit different. The antiquity of Armenia, the first country that adopted Christianity. The winemaking culture of Georgia that has unique grape varieties not found anywhere in the world (and of course Georgians claiming to have invented wine!). That world was left behind somewhere, it seems to have been forgotten. Yet, it is the world that might have very little vegetation and flowers on the surface, but its roots grow very deep.
I went on my own personal journey of discovering this world, and especially the artistic side of it. Between these two civilizations, the West and the East. And somewhere along the way, I stumbled across the art of Albena Vatcheva. Albena was born in Bulgaria, a small Eastern European country most of us probably can't point on the map. Yet, Bulgaria is right next to Greece and Turkey. Ancient Bulgarians gave us Saints Cyril and Methodius who invented the Cyrillic alphabet that Russians use to this day. A number of ancient revered Christian sites are also here, and it had a major impact on Ancient Greece and its culture. At the same time, being at the crossroads of Europe and the Middle East, its culture has been influenced by its neighbors. Byzantium, the Ottoman Empire, Ancient Greece, the Russian Empire, and even cosmopolitan Austria-Hungary have influenced modern Bulgaria.
It is here where Albena Vatcheva was born. It is this rich culture that is shining through her work. Richness, sensuality, and romanticism. These three words describe it to me. Sometimes, she is painting an episode from the Arabian nights. Sometimes, it is the delicate Islamic or Turkish patterns that are completing her painting. Sometimes, it is the richness, the expressiveness, the colors of Byzantine art that I notice in her work. Yet, the subjects of her art are not saints or Bible stories. Her subjects are regular people who have ascended to those heights. And they ascended to those heights through love, through devotion, through dedication, through the purity of their souls.
Albena now lives and creates in her studio in Rouen, France. She has been living in France for over 25 years where she's raising her family and still finds time to paint. She successfully exhibited at multiple international art fairs. Yet, she remains humble and friendly. Let's be honest some artists are divas. Wait, no, they're Divas with a capital "D". She is not. And I think she just wants to stay true to her mission as an artist, and that is to capture "love, tenderness and beauty in life".
I am super excited to bring Albena's work to the US. Her art is one of the kind and Art House SF is truly honored to present it to our audience.
Max Khusid, Art House SF