Marin Georgiev Ustagenov

Marin Georgiev Ustagenov is among the most interesting of our painters - a student of Mrkvichka, he transformed the painterly days of the Bulgarians, and at that time brought a European feeling to the canvases, using a silvery range and a cold color. He is among the best copyists of our icons, who participated in the restoration of the Boyan Church, the Zemen Monastery, etc.

He was born in 1872. Marin Georgiev Ustagenov graduated from the school for reserve officers, but the brush and the paints were always close to him. He is in the first class to graduate from the State School of Painting. His talent stood out even as a student together with Andrey Nikolov, Alexander Bozhinov, Haralampi Tachev, Tseno Todorov, Stefan Ivanov. A student of Ivan Mrkvichka, he stands out above all with his nudes, painted in a gentle silver range with cold tones that give airiness to the image.

As a student of Mrkvichka, Marin Georgiev Ustagenov showed a keen interest in Bulgarian traditions, needlework, shawl collars and other colorful details that found a place in his art. For this reason, he went to specialize in Restoration at the Royal Bavarian Academy in Munich, but due to financial problems he finished his education in Bulgaria.

Marin Georgiev Ustagenov was among the first Bulgarians to discover the fascination of plein air painting – he painted landscapes outdoors, where his cold silvery range finds real use in recreating the atmospheric influences on color.

One of Ustagenov's strongest passions is icon painting, in which he again follows our traditions, but achieves more depth thanks to oil paints (medieval icons were created with tempera). Ustagenov uses the qualities of oil paints to achieve half-tones and half-shadows that increase the impact on the audience.

For his trilogy „From the Past“, he received a solid offer for a ransom during an exhibition in Zagreb, but he refused to part with the work, which he wanted to keep for our museum fund.

He works as a military artist. He creates sketches and drawings both of the daily life of the soldier and capturing the mood before battle and the sense of devastation after losing a battle.

In 1913, his daughter Anna was born. Throughout all the years of his career, Marin Georgiev Ustagenov felt unable to cope with the material world. He refuses to turn his art into a marketable product and refuses to sell his paintings. In order to support himself in 1920, he opened a grocery store and stood behind the counter himself.

In 1922, together with his fellow student Andrey Nikolov, the painter created an enterprise for plaster casts of aids for anatomy classes. Later, he started an entrepreneurial activity, which again ended in failure. He goes hunting with his dog, but instead of shooting rabbits, he sets up his easel in nature and begins to paint. Creates canvases such as "Rich Hunting", "Hunters", "Snipes", "Sled Hunting". He travels around the outskirts of Sofia, from where he also returns with drawings "Orkhaniysko shose", "Poduyanski market", "Market on Cherkovna street", "Koprivshtenski cars".

For 25 years, he created over a hundred copies of old church frescoes, among which are the Boyan and Zemen churches, the Kremikov and Bachkovo monasteries. In 1904, he restored the figure of Tsar Ivan Asen II, painted 600 years ago on the facade of the church near the village of Berende.

Marin Georgiev Ustagenov died in 1937.