Mitko Zhelezarov (painter, Bulgaria, 1966 )

Mitko Zhelezarov is an author with colouring and subjects, which are impactive and easy to be remembered, an artist with own style of painting and place in the Bulgarian fine arts.

Works produced by the artist’s brush represent an attempt to move to another world, a world of Christian values and messages. Their quietness, calmness and positive power create an atmosphere, which is felt and co-experienced by everybody in their own way. We can look at his pictures without the need to ask for their exact titles. The messages, which are so important for the author, are put at the top place. This feature determines the overall appearance of his works. There, the artist is still more thorough and meaningful. Compositions depict the creator’s innermost visions; visions born in the world of his imagination. They have been built with a lot of sense of colours and linear rhythm. Pictorial canvasses are focused on the subject of Christianity. The author develops many variations out of one subject. Compositions are not of the nature type as an approach, they have the impact of abstract works. The artist passes through nature in a special artistic manner. Symbols and signs borrowed from icon-painting draw one’s attention to the major subject and the message: the eternal Christian truths. The silhouette of a blessing hand and the loving image of fish appear against absolutely conditional background. The hand reminds of love and acceptance, what we need everyday. And the fish remains one of the earliest Christian symbols. The boats illustrate the path of human life full of trials and temptations. He often uses the chalice: it is blood as symbol of life. These images come to us and suggest our strivings for the eternal and timeless values, which we need so much in our everyday life. Other major symbols which intertwine in his pictures include a key, numbers, letters, and eyes. He draws on the old traditions of our iconographic school recreated in a contemporary and up-to-date manner. His pictures depict a strange symbiosis of messages, colour and image, which carries a direct and explicit message. Produced at one go, they are full of positive energy and hope. By combining his inner and exterior outlook, he creates his own mentally enriched world. The values he suggests does not restrict him; he finds new freedom in them. They are both a source of concepts and fresh creative power. Mitko Zhelezarov is not in a search of useless effects in the terms of composition and colours, he is not interested so much in the details. He is laconic. He has found the way to a more contemporary presentation of the popular Christian themes and subjects. In his works we can see the expressiveness characteristic of the artist. His colouring is well harmonized on the basis of several colours. The artist gives preferences to the vivid expressive colours with their complicated and soft shades in his ambition to create bright images. Good balance of warm and cold is complemented by the line, which discreetly rings out amidst the major symbols and hints of the most significant elements. Most of his pictures have been executed in the technique of acrylic paints by using as base both the conventional canvas and wood or paper. The mixture of various techniques and materials include oil painting, collage, water colour, crayon, China ink, as well as graphic materials. Recently, the author has returned to the classic painting technique. He has also an inclination to wood, which often replaces the conventional canvas. The many materials he works with add to and enrich the artist’s world. His sometimes willful sketchy manner of work, his sense of colour and power of colouring preserve the basic mightiest incentive. His preference to large formats makes his canvasses still more effective: one further opportunity to develop his concepts to the full. True to his sense Mitko Zhelezarov gives expression to his visions and emotions in an abstract-and-sign imagery. His creative pursue is intimate, specific, and it carries the power of suggestion. In his works with contemporary and complete sounding, there appear the artist’s all emotive world linked to the specific objective world and to the attempt to disclose his own self. Compositions have particularly mighty sounding; a man absorbed in his thoughts, fears and hope finds once again the positive and cheerful feeling. There remains the genuine co-experience, because creative works generally excite and calm down. The meeting of everyone who got in touch with the painting messages turns into a challenge. There is no doubt that Mitko Zhelezarov goes beyond the border of real recreation, comes closer to the divine and timelessness. Having observed any of his works, one keeps not only the immediate impression, but also a kind of transformation, strong and remembered. In recent years he has returned to the classical picture as such, going along the path of temptations with the new conceptual means of expression. He is in a search for the picture with its intimacy, suggestion and presence around us. This is his message to us. As the artist says: “While somebody calls them abstract or otherwise, I want my works to act directly on spectators. I do not wish to make them suffer by guessing and thinking over my canvasses for years on. My sole thought, when I finalize a picture of mine, is for it to carry the positive feeling of life and bring it to people’s home”.   Diana Papazova Art critic