Our first story is about the Bulgarian artist, Professor Ilya Iliev. Mosaic is his fate. His muse is the nature of Bulgaria, his weapon is geometry, his army is pebbles, glass, stone and smalt.
- Country – Bulgaria
- City – Sofia
Iliya was born and raised in Burgas – a city in Bulgaria, located on the very shore of the Black Sea. This fertile area has long been loved by people. The first Greek settlements appeared here long before the new era. The Greeks naturally displaced the Romans, then the Bulgarians.
The birthplace of Iliya, the neighborhood with the heritage of ancient civilizations and the tangible proximity of the sea largely determined his fate as an artist, gave a powerful impulse to his imagination and vision of life.
Iliya was born in the family of a marine engineer and a school teacher. His parents were people who were not indifferent to art. Recognizing the artist’s appendages in his son, his parents in every possible way supported his hobby.
– Nulla dies sine linea (No day without a line) – this Latin aphorism became the motto of young Ilya and his parents.
Simple, capacious and ingenious marine landscapes, the unpretentious life of the suburb of Burgas – all this was a food for the inspiration of the beginning artist. As he writes in his book “My way”: “- The main thing that made me an artist is a sea. The sea, which lives with its constant rhythm, where each new wave is unlike the previous one and searches for its own way, touching the shore and dissolving in the sand, sowing its gifts in an incomprehensible way – shells, pieces of glass, algae and bodies of honey. “
All this can be seen, but rather feel in the mosaics of Ilya. Coastal landscapes, frozen for a moment pebbles, trimmed fragments of glass, reminiscent of jewels, interwoven with emerald algae – uncreated works of art, created by nature itself and captured by of the sea romantic careful look.
The family and classmates respected the Ilya’s gift. For his school friends, he remained an “artist”. It would seem that the next step was to become a study in an art school. But fate managed differently. For political reasons, Ilya was denied admission to the school, and he chose his specialty architecture.
As the artist writes in the previously mentioned book, he initially considered these years of study and subsequent practice in architecture to be lost time, thrown out of life. Nevertheless, later Ilya found out for himself that it is worth to be grateful for this new experience, which “… added my fascination with nature and the sea of rationality, functional beginning, comprehension of geometry and its postulates based on
After graduating from the institute and five years of building design practice, Ilya was able to approach his dream – to be an artist. He entered the National Academy of Arts of Bulgaria. He remembers with gratitude these years and his teacher – Professor Georgy Bogdanov – an exceptional artist and talented teacher. composition.”
Georgy Bogdanov taught at the Academy from 1946 to the last years of his life. Since 1953, he headed the faculty of monumental painting and scenography. He worked mainly in the technique of wet fresco, mosaics and sgraffito. His works are decorated with significant museums and public buildings of Bulgaria, including the archaeological museum in Veliko Tarnovo, the Varna Museum “The Battle of Friendship”, the House of Soviets in Dimitrovgrad and many others.
Monumental painting is a sphere directly connected with architecture. As Ilya says, fortunately, in this area it was possible to avoid close control of the apologists of socialist realism. Since in those years, for the most part monumental painting used various ornamental compositions, the artist began to experiment with the ornament, introducing along with the fresco elements of mosaic, using art glass, natural stone, smalto and other materials.
“-It was then that I understood the outstanding role of the material used by the artist to convey the style and design of the work.”
After graduation, Iliya remained at the Academy as a teacher, and from 1965 to 1993 he He trained a lot of students, with many of whom are still connected by ties of friendship.
Since then, Ilya has been with visits, as a well-known artist in many countries, participated in many international symposia, exhibitions, mosaic congresses. Iliya is full of creative energy, the mosaic was and remains his sincere love.
We asked a few short questions to the artist, the answers to which would like to quote below.
M.R. – Ilya, is there something special that drives you when creating a mosaic, what do you always rely on? It
I.I. – Yes, of course. First of all, it is my knowledge and experience. Geometry is necessary. There is nothing to do without nature, which is my first inspiration. And, of course, intuition.
M.R. – How do you see the mosaic in general in our modern life?
I.I. – Mosaic, in my deep conviction, is an ancient, eternal and at the same time modern art. Unfortunately, there is no understanding of the mosaic in the world as a serious art. In my opinion, museums of the world could collect in their collection not only ancient mosaic works, but also modern ones as well. At the same time, mosaic is a universal tool. With its help, you can create any kind of composition, from abstract to those that give a capacious sense of space, perspective, depth and illusion.
M.R. – You were born and lived all your life in Bulgaria. Could you describe how your country influenced the uniqueness of your mosaics?
I.I. – As I mentioned earlier, the unique nature of Bulgaria, especially its coastal part, the breath of the sea, the rustling of pebbles, the feeling of the sea, as a huge living organism, has always been the primary source of my delight and inspiration. I breathe this nature and all my mosaics are the result of my perception of the world around me. On the other hand, it is a great responsibility to work and create something of its own on the stage of ancient Roman mosaics, which have already become an organic part of nature and the world feeling.
M.R. – Ilya, have you ever thought about what is the primary for you when creating a mosaic: Idea, inspiration, any philosophical thought or something else?
I.I. – This is a complex question. Of course, first of all, the idea. But I will tell you honestly, sometimes enough only inspiration. According to my deep conviction, the mosaic is a divine technique that gives the opportunity to be a modern artist, opening a new look at life.
M.R. – The last question for today – Do you have any plans, plans that you would like to implement in the near future?
I.I. – My main plan is not to stop, to make mosaics, to create, giving way out of the positive energy. What I wish all my colleagues – mosaicists.