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To be a painter from Plovdiv is something far different from that to be a Bulgarian painter. Such a position is a challenge to the native man from Plovdiv, George Simov, and it has nothing in common with the conventional perceptions about national and regional division and hierarchy, as well as with the speculative ideas about center and periphery.

Whether they like it or not, modern painters from Plovdiv are apriori applicated to the mythology of Zlatyu Boyadzhiev and Tsanko Lavrenov. They are measured with the bohemian-artistic biography of the generation that in the 60s of the last century opposed to the normative aesthetics, proved itself during its lifetime and created a second layer of a mythological version about the Plovdiv Montmartre. The time passed by and the free-thinking settled down, became legitimate; it gained acceptance and officiousness, administered its artistic conceptions and inevitably led to a new norm.

It was in the 80s when Dimitar Kazakov – Neron in the spirit of his abrupt style and with his impeccable flair for the things proclaimed the failure of the Philippopolis phenomenon. Neron put it curtly, that after a French pattern, the Old Town of Plovdiv “became a sacred place” but the time had come when “hundreds of painters today are loitering along the gloomy town,” because “Plovdiv used to be the leading town.”

I, as a critic, do not take such statements unequivocally because even today, the artistic Plovdiv lives a peculiar life, detached from the general processes in the country`s artistic culture, raised over the tepes (hills) of old glory and new ambitions. We can hardly talk about a group, about a community of spirit in today`s chaotic and uncontrollable artistic life, even because of the fact that Plovdiv artistic elite are an example of a group made up of extreme individualists.

On this panorama, George Simov has been working for decades with a stoical consistency which has to stand up for his perceptions about painting, as well as to meet the requirements of the unequal market rhythm of surviving. Painter`s work shall not be idealized with examples of selflessness, because the creative work of every author is a form of making a living as well. Quite thin is the borderline between the vital need of creating and recreating and the revolutionary compromise of the supply. The ability to balance between those two is typical for each and every artist, and in this respect George Simov is not an exception, as he proves the unity principle of Plovdiv`s opposites.

George Simov`s canvases reveal an unrestrained delight by the very process of painting. It is quite important the effort to stay invisible: the work invested, the time spent – these all are elements from the creative process, for which it is assumed that passes through anguish and pain. I am deeply convinced that the art George Simov creates is also accompanied by the well-known “delight-pain” from which, however, only the positive part remains visible.

The zest for life in his painting comes out unimpaired of the vicissitudes it goes trough during the accomplishment of the work – making the plot meaningful, the composition of the work and the building up of colors. It is a rare quality of a painter who makes his achievement visible while he keeps hidden from the viewer the whole dramaturgy and contradiction accompanying the creative process of construction. Even if a hard labor was invested in achieving the artistic result, it would remain invisible even for the biased connoisseur.

Simov is effusive by temper, he does not wait the time in its slowliness to sift out and perpetuate his work. Painting for him is a vital and a natural state of living and a way of responding to the world. In such a setting and emotional disposition it is absolutely logical to define the painter as an expansive expressionist whose main means of expression is the color.

It is evident that the painter`s coloristic unrestraint is an expression of his emotional disposition – organic and natural, of which he sometimes, without no ground, feels ashamed. The embarrassment he feels of the colorful expansion, on the one hand, speaks for self-analysis and personal control, or maybe it is brought in by the critical unconscientiousness of the people around who would like to turn the individual partiality into a complex.

George Simov is afraid his expressive multi-colorness not to be taken as an indiscriminate handling with colors. This fear has been fed by external factors whose stylistic ideas support the monochromy as a sign of modern art of painting. Simov has the privilege of turning the paint into a color, and in the proportions of the colors laid, of achieving coloring – bright and unrestrained, energetic and elevated, such that most precisely expresses his inner arrangements. The coloring erupts enthusiastically and spontaneously, and even if it happens to misrepresent or to sweep off the form, it acts independently and convincingly.

George Simov does not contemplate on the visible but tries to get into the inner sense of the things. He experiments with the mosaic arrangement of pieces and elements which he combines into a compact form. His painting is a combination of signs that make up the whole; and in it we see the independent detail of which the image of suggestion is composed. It is all exposed on a bright background, so that the wholeness of the apparent segmentation stands out. Simov lays colorful textures and accents, forms and signs, resembling the principle of building up stained glass. In terms of the plot, his paintings combine the insignificant with the important; they juxtapose the permanent with the everyday.

There are things delicate in painter`s nature that acquire an enormous significance for life`s meaning in art. The transient moods materialize into ghostly images of birds, objects and conditions diluting their outlines into the abstract inconsistency of imagination. Vortexes are present, sudden changes, too – these are all painter`s futile attempts to curb the imagination, to tame his insatiable need of a color in the space. At some points, his stylistics reaches the exaltation of the abstract expressionism though never getting apart from that grounding without which his painting would be pointless and nonfigurative.

Often the present moment in art is defined as a revolutionary breaking down of the classic notions, predetermined by the digitalization era and the global thinking. In the general scheme of a crisis in traditional genres and the passion for the so called non-conventional forms, to be able to preserve the prestige of the painting space is not retrograde at all. In the drama of the classic painting reality it is often imposed a directing that predetermines a tragic end. Searching for such false collisions brings back memories of the confrontation between the computer information expansion and the Gutenberg`s invention – the printed book.

George Simov keeps self-control and gets permanence in defense of the painting`s meaning – with nervousness and imperativeness that can not be subjected to disputes. He is convinced of painting not being transient, capable in each historic time to comprise in itself and to express the emotional worlds and the worlds of meaning of the contemporary person, regardless of the fashion, the situation in time, and the not-light-to-bear fate – to be in Bulgaria, a painter from Plovdiv.

©Bisera Yosifova, 2010 -  art critic