She-wolf seen as nursing life
The sculptor Emil Pavlov with a new exhibition of timeless things
24 June, 2017
Female figures from the Expectation cycle.
In Bulgaria’s contemporary art, Emil Popov is known for his sculptures of stone, metal, clay and wood. His expressive masterpieces carry the energy of the earth and create the impression of freedom of movement, while leaving a sense of deep connection with the artwork. The artist’s cohesive relationship with nature infuses his works with power and energy.
This expressive potential can be observed in the sculptures in Popov’s latest exhibition, entitled She-Wolf, which is on show at the Rakursi Art Gallery in Sofia. “I thought now is a good time to talk about things that have remained unchanged since the beginning of time. I was prompted to create this exhibition by one of Konstantin Pavlov’s poems that contemplates the zest for life embodied by the female nature. I see the she-wolf as the saviour of human children in the legend of Romulus and Remus. The she-wolf is perceived as one creating and nursing life, whereas the modern world turns millions of people into wretched creatures,” the sculptor says.
There are three cycles in the exhibition, according to Emil Popov. The first is dedicated to the present, in which the refugee crisis is the most dramatic event. The artist believes that the root cause for the tragedy affecting millions of people is not being discussed publicly. A work on the theme of people fleeing war, their plight and helplessness is called The Innocent. Another composition, representing two large hands, is called Presence. Three idol female forms representing the will to live continue the cycle named Expectation. Then follow two female figures called Cry, which represent the birth of life. There is another sculpture of a female embodying motherhood, followed by a she-wolf, who is meant to protect the new life.
“As any other person with similar sensibilities and experience, I see the dark clouds hanging over Europe and the world, obscuring the sky and the horizon. However, I am far from a doomsayer or a prophet, I am simply a sculptor who is honest and does not hide from the truth,” Popov continues. “If my exhibition has a message, it is contained in the reflex, our desire to be part of the world with our voice. I am troubled by what is happening in the world, depressed by this horrifying aggression that is being unleashed and that is escalating out of control. With the resources that we have in terms of economic power, technologies and knowledge, we still allow the survival of millions to be threatened. This is absolutely incomprehensible to me!” the artist says.
To him, continuity is a postulate, an aesthetic norm in art. Popov says he feels uncomfortable whenever artists from the recent past are labelled as representatives of the socialist era art, or “soc”. In his mind, art is a profound phenomenon, not a projection of political affiliations. Popov calls for the manifestations of culture, wisdom and knowledge to form the foundation of every educational process. Otherwise, we create an environment that breeds aggression, primitive lack of enlightenment and ignorance on a huge scale that would result in damages worse than the economic ones, the artist warns.
Emil Popov was born in 1951 and raised in the beautiful city of Kyustendil, south Bulgaria. In 1975 he graduated from the National Academy of Art in Sofia. He has dozens of solo and group exhibitions in Sofia, Varna, Plovdiv, Berlin, Hamburg and Frankfurt under his belt.