Atanas Yaranov (1940 - 1988). Incarnations.
Atanas Yaranov is one of the great names in Bulgarian painting from the second half of the twentieth century. Characterized by his unique creative style, powerful imagery, and respectful in terms of volume, his work is commensurate with the high achievements of European modernism. His art is focused on the basic problems of human existence, the moral foundations and values of ancestral affiliation, overcoming life's trials and pain, the strength and will of the spirit.
Gallery Loran presents a chamber collector's exhibition called "Incarnations". It includes color and black-and-white drawings, preparatory projects and compositions from different periods. Most of the works are executed in the author's mixed techniques with watercolor, tempera, ink, pen, pastel, sanguine, and others. Although they are more than colorful, they are dominated by the pictorial principle and the color is secondary. Similar to strictly picturesque works, the author follows clear principles. The expressive drawing alternates with bold, enlarged expressive lines, which, in addition to building the form, enhance the presence of movement and rhythm in the composition. The artworks deserve attention as moments of this and the materialization of the idea. As a workshop for multiple variations, repetitions and experiments and a prelude to Yaranov's world.
The compositions are characterized by ease and lightness of expression. Some of them contain his mytho-poetic thinking and imagery, which is influenced by Bulgarian folklore. We called the exhibition "Incarnations" because the artist transforms reality into an imaginary space, inhabiting it with figures and images that overturn the visual code and load it with unexpected symbolism and messages.
The themes and plots are different. Some of them are variants of series developed over the years, such as "Beach", "Octopus", "Rite", "Self-portraits", "Circus", "Man and Dog", "Atelier", "Antiquity" etc. and have direct parallels in Yaranov's paintings. Like everything in his work, the drawings included in the exhibition are concentrated entirely on the figure and the figurative. In their construction they are laconic but they are saturated with plasticity, architecture, meanings, states and movement. They are the main carriers of ideas, which in the context of the title are often personifications and incarnations of indirect, mediated meaning.
There are several such works in the current exhibitiоn. In the series of self-portraits we see psycho-associative states in which in one case the author incarnated in an owl, and in the other - in a wild clay man. In the second work, the dove-gray tempera mass in combination with a curving sharp brown pastel line surrounds the silhouette of a flowing figure, which takes the form of a grotesque - an image of the author himself. In his environment there are accompanying symbols such as toothed dogs, complementing the feeling of a primordial being, a distorted, deformed beast.
The artwork with stylized rowers and workers directs us to Yaranov's mural projects in Dimitrovgrad from the 1970s. The theme and the implementation are in the direction of the idea of the achievements of human labor and progress, relevant for those years in Bulgaria. Constructive decomposition of form, rhythmic repetition of movement and building blocks lead us to associations with futurism.
Inspired by our folklore heritage, as a ritual we can define a composition from the early 1980s, filled with ink and tempera. In the bacchanalia of half-human-half-animal figures and images we find elements and characters that are repeated in other works of Yaranov. There are people with masks, a calf, a man with a bull's head and more. In his folklore and mythological works, men are often disguised as birds - eagle, rooster, hawk, parrot, and their presence is not accidental. The birds have a reserved place in his work, but not in the universal sense as a symbol of freedom and flight of the spirit, but vice versa - in its absence. We associate them with despair. Predatory and arrogant, an obstacle to creativity, the incarnation of evil. We find them lying on a tripod, among the art materials in the studio, hanging in the closet. We also find them in several compositions in the exhibition hall.
Here we should add another motif, in which again with the help of animals, or parts of them, the meaning is clarified. As in the already mentioned work and in a composition performed in tempera, we see a man with a bull's skull, who embodies a hero, an incarnation of male strength.
We are moving to another series- “the Aegean Sea”. A drawing from this series shows us a reclining figure and a fish. The strange thing is that the fish is flying and the man on the ground is still. The space and the acting figures have changed their positions - above and below, they have changed their essence. This gives a completely new direction and meaning to the work - the images-symbols cross the existential boundaries and turn the laws of nature and established relationships into an unreal dimension.
In general, the drawings shown are in more muted scales, but a few go beyond this condition. Two chapters, probably from his Mediterranean series, are an exception. They are in experimental wax-watercolor technique, have ink outlines, but the shape is built by alternating a negative wax stripe with a series of several bright ones of additional colors.
The octopus painting from the series of the same name, made in the 1980s, shows the clear architectural form of the figures. What impresses us is the light and shade construction on the principles of woodcarving and the light play with the shape of the octopus as the sun.
The descriptions can go on, but one thing is for sure - enigmatic and powerful, Atanas Yaranov stands beyond definitions and parallels, his talent is undoubted and unconditional, and with this exhibition we hope to add another stroke to his work.