May 2010

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EVGENI ANDREEV

A DECORATIVE LIFE

In this archive we interview expatriate artist Evgeni Andreev.  Evgeni and his wife and son relocated to Tripoli from Bulgaria, 14 years ago.  Read his interview below and click on the thumbnails to view his artwork.

Evgeni, tell us a little about yourself.   I am Bulgarian. With my wife, Silviya, and my son, Lyubomir, we arrived in Tripoli about 14 years ago. My wife began work as a pediatrician.


What made you decide to move to Libya?  20 years ago, significant political and economical changes took place in Bulgaria and all of Eastern Europe. In relation to these changes, we decided to look for a new vision regarding our professional development.


How did you make friends?  It depends on the person. When a person is positive, with a rich culture and spirituality, it is not difficult for him/her to find new contacts, or develop a friendship based on common interests. There are many foreigners in Tripoli; I believe that, regardless of what work they do, similar interests can lead to friendly relationships. The Libyans have always been welcoming hosts, careful and friendly towards their guests. It is a pleasure for me to greet someone on the street or in the store. It is an expression of mutual respect.


Highs and lows in the last 14 years?  Every new beginning and every change create conditions for a new way of living, accompanied by various difficulties. The change of climate and the language barrier have had an effect, as well as the local culture and traditions which have to be respected.


I do not believe that we have gone through a lot of difficulties, but there have been times when I have felt nostalgic for my country. Eventually, we became used to the new conditions, we adapted – our daily life re-entered its regular rhythm.


I would like to express my gratitude and respect to the family of Jennifer and Michael Georgalakis, who organized two of my exhibitions in their home. Their support, as well as that of Libyan photographer Mohammed Craza, was of great importance to the development of my artistic career.


What do you think of the changes to Tripoli in recent years?  Over the last 10 years, significant changes have taken place in Tripoli. Libya is a country open to the whole world. With its rich history and well-preserved culture, Libya has become an attractive tourist destination. This has led to the construction of many new administrative buildings, luxurious hotels, streets, parks and gardens, all for the good of the infrastructure. Building machinery is working everywhere; many regions in the city are changing. I am hoping to see original architectural surprises in the city.


You are a professional artist.  Tell us about this.  Where did you study?  What kind of artwork do you produce?  My whole life is connected to art. Like all children, I enjoyed drawing; I have to admit, I often preferred white paper and coloured pencils over football or other games on the street. Having grown up in the Beatles-period, I also played guitar in a band with my teenage friends. But in the end, I chose drawing over music.


I received my higher education in an arts university, specializing in Decorative Monumental art. For me the symbiosis, the unity of art, is the combination of graphic, painting, plastic (sculpture) and architectural elements. This is the strong effect of wall-painting, mosaics and decorative arts.


The stylistic characteristics of my paintings are directly connected to my main specialization – decorative elements, stylized iconographic images and a rich variety of colours.


What inspires you?  Maybe the bright, infinite sunlight subconsciously affects me, so that I render a mood of multi-coloured harmony and spiritual imagery. An artist is influenced by his surroundings. Both nature and people have their influence. I am not drawing from nature, all of my paintings are a product of my imagination.


The painter is a psychologist. In the process of drawing, I explore the connections between my spirituality and the images that I create, seeking the balance of composition, the harmony of colour and shape, and last but not least, the message that I have to give the viewer. A painting is like music and poetry – it creates a mood, it gives people the ability to dream; without dreams, one is like a bird with broken wings.


Tell us about the art scene in Libya.  Is there a strong community?  Do you have a connection with both Libyan and expat artists?  Are there opportunities for artists to show off their talent? I am not in contact with many Libyan artists. I know those working at the Art House Gallery. For foreigners interested in cultural events, the French and Italian cultural institutes are a real oasis. Tripoli is a big city, but I can feel the absence of an active cultural life. There’s a lack of current information.


What dreams do you have for the artistic culture and community here? I am hoping that, in respect to the transforming architectural image of Tripoli, new and modern scenes for concerts and theatre will be opened. Television rarely carries out the functions of enriching our cultural needs. The live, direct contact between audience and performers is the real way to improve one’s spiritual and aesthetic pleasures. Multi-functional exhibition halls, where visual arts can combine with music or dance, should find a place in the newly-built luxurious hotels.


The Libyan national culture and tradition, with its great variety, has always been interesting to foreigners. The creation of collaborative projects, featuring theatrical and musical bands and artists from other nations, will no doubt ignite an interest in the local culture. Not everything in this world is football and TV.


What are your main leisure activities?  Usually, I do not have a lot of free time, simply because when I am not drawing, I deal with other works like architectural design and computers. I like to work with 3D software programs and Photoshop.


During the long summers we go to the beach – I enjoy swimming. I also enjoy the company of my favourite Siamese tom cat. Relaxing with him purring in my lap is very pleasant.


Is there anything you have to frequently source from outside Libya?  No, I find all of the materials I need in Tripoli. Painting is an expensive pleasure. Professional materials, like frames, oil and acrylic paint, etc. cost a lot and are often sold in specialized stores. There are three or four places in Tripoli where one can find quality materials: The Art House, Sah Stationery Shop on Gargaresh Street, Al-Muhandis Stationery Suppliers on Bab Ben Ghashir, or Dahra.


What’s the most difficult thing about living here?  I do not think that living here is difficult. There is a recognizable difference in the climate, but people get used to it with time. It is unpleasant when there is a sand storm, but that rarely happens. The many sunny and peaceful days, along with the sea, compensate for the minor climatic discomfort.


What will you miss about Libya when or if you have to leave?  First, I will miss my friends. I will miss the sun, the clean beaches, the warmth and the welcoming locals. I will never forget my experiences from the Historical Museum in Tripoli and the ancient Roman sites – Leptis Magna and Sabratha. Buildings in Tripoli have few floors; this together with the lack of hilly regions gives me the feeling of infinity…


How can people view and purchase your artwork?  Currently I am preparing new paintings for an exhibition, which I intend to hold in autumn 2010 – in October or November. I promise to give you the exact information of the time and place first.


You can contact me: ekart@mail.bg or 0914199022


Profile page on Facebook: http://www.facebook.com/album.php?aid=2033617&id=1054044292




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