Ivo Pecov is an artist born in Macedonia, but creating in Bulgaria. In his exhibition, "Basement", he touches on an interesting topic of mental space in which a person stores feelings, desires, emotions. He forgets about them and they stay… As long as it takes. In a conversation with him, he manages to tell us what is this "basement" like and what value does it brings
What inspires you in constructing and inventing a concept for exhibition? It all starts with one painting and the others come along by themselves, or is it the topic that comes first?
In my case, inspiration comes from the field of my searches, perceptions and from the perspective from which I look at existence and reality. I reconstruct this reality the way as I understand it. I approach with many open questions towards its mystery, in which we live, and with the clear understanding that the full and all-encompassing comprehension of man and the universe is impossible for the ego, which shapes our perspective of awareness. Just as quantum physicists, mentally tracing the quantum, jump through the bizarre forms of reality themselves, so I jump into themes and styles of expression, and all this may be an attempt to escape the fixt determinationnes of my material existence and the limitations of matter.
The defined concept appears to unite the means of expression in order to strengthen the perception of the exhibition. Initially, I have the need to express my perception and view of what I think is an important issue, then with specific expressive visual means I try to convey this perception to the viewer, and thus to communicate. In particular, I created the paintings from my exhibition, entitled "Basement", as a whole, as one work, because in this whole I was looking for the effect and the impact. The topic itself had emerged as something indeterminate and abstract before being concretized and named.
Do you think that the change of the location updates and refreshes the creative process?
Certain places where we can find ourselves in a certain period can influence us and unlock interesting associations and provoke us to express something of our inner world in an artistic way. Thus, the space of the Art 36 gallery unlocked the opportunity for me to express my view, to make the connection between a specific physical place and another place located in the inner world.
When creating the paintings, I painted many jars that fill the painting surfaces and create a background and ambience in which the action takes place. These works are created to interact with their surroundment. They are created not to be separated from the space in which they are, but to communicate with it and change it meaningfully. The multitude and accumulation of symbols that appear as the contents of painted jars are like the various thoughts that are constantly born in us. These symbols, enclosed as contents in jars, are like our desire to preserve for a long time what we have chosen and desired, to keep it, hide and preserve it for some future moment in which we will be able to manifest and consume it.
I especially liked that interesting moment that one has to go down a few steps to find the small but compact space of the gallery. This was the circumstance that I also tried to include in order to reinforce the meaning of the presented topic.
Do you become more closed while painting? What is your process?
I am one of those people who like to stay alone, and painting is an intimate moment for me. Some of my colleagues prefer to always be in company and this way create their works, but for me it is very important in the creative process to escape from the presence and influence of others so that I can hear my inner voice and distinguish my direction from everything else. It often happens, in key moments for me, to remain in complete silence. Once I set my direction, the technical realization and the effort to recreate my idea as impactfully as possible remain. I do it as much as I can.
Your works seem to speak metaphorically about life… Does it mean that the human condition is better describable with this approach?
Art and life are inseparable notions. Art is the way life expresses itself. Art in itself contains life, insofar as it does not determine and define it, but reinforces the enigmatic and mysterious, which is the feature of life. That is why the poetic approach, in my opinion, contains the most completeness and depth in every work.
My way of expression and approach is the effort through a combination of specific shapes or hinted silhouettes, symbols, colors to invite the viewer to expand the perception of the proposed topic. These combinations and associations create, as you put it, the "metaphorical speech" of my works. Each person in one way or another indicates his spiritual state - through his way of life and the traces he leaves behind or what we call art. Sometimes, when people have similar searches and experiences in life, they can understand the messages they send to each other through the traces left.
We live in a time when understandings of aesthetics are blurred - for different people the ideal of beauty appears radically different. This happens to people who are supposedly from one family, country or religious union. We found ourselves as an isolated islands, each for it selfs, in an alienated society that has only one unconscious faith - selfish materialism. I created these works precisely to remind us of the illusion that is constantly instilled on us, through the mass media and the attack on our brains by advertisements, that we need one, another and a third product. I tried to present the absurdity of our time, with the idea of reminding of the effect of this - the expansion of our "inner basement".
Where is the happiness, if this basement means throwing away a desire?
I tried to visualize the accumulation and storage of desires, dreams in the human inner - mental space, featured as a basement. All these contents, the meaning of which is indicated by the symbols in the paintings, are in fact stored, preserved, not discarded. We store them namely, because we believe that they can bring us happiness, because we are not able yet to get rid of them at all. This is the world of illusion, brought in from the outside world through repetition, through advertising, through our unconscious re-education by the consumer society. It is strange when a person realizes that his thoughts are not really his thoughts, his joys are not really his joys, but that everything is subject of programming - the truth is that man has very little, even less, than he even thought of.
From my point of view, happiness is in every step towards widening awareness, whether or not walking this path is painful or not. The method I use to walk this path is painting, and in it I find happiness.
Is the size of the basement inversely proportional to human happiness?
There are both passions and joys in this basement, but they are unconstant, running like shadows, with a vague and ghostly silhouette. This is the world of the ever-running illusion that we know of but still hope that if catching it will bring us happiness… and this, of course, never happens. All that remains is the constant spinning in a circle to catch up with the thing that always manages to escape us.
In fact, there is nothing wrong with this content of the basement, but the scale it aims to reach is threatening, then we would already be talking about living entirely in our basement instead on our top high place.
In fact, is the basement subconscious or is it made up of deliberately neglected things?
These are our desires, somewhat tried on and others only desired. These are the places or conditions in which a person has failed to reside and therefore has preserved them for some time in the future. This is the repressed unexperienced, which seeks its way out and a way to manifest, blow or erupt like a volcano, lurking for a long time in the bowels of the basement.
Will a person change completely if he starts living in the basement? Is it dangerous for the mind?
Finally, I would say that we actually live in our underground and if we like it that's way, we can go on doing it so. It will not be so scary for artists to continue going to the exhibitions of their colleagues and to represent the main part of the audience, it will not be so scary for writers to go to the presentations of their colleagues' books, the musicians to listen the music of their colleagues, while the others reside in the places of their costly paid pleasures. The world is wide and large enough to withstand the stupidity of everyone.
Sofia, May 28th 2018