Les œuvres de Boryana Petkova proposent une nouvelle perception de l’espace si subtile qu’elles interrogent notre capacité à prêter y attention. Elles convoquent les liens entre les êtres et nos possibilités d’aller plus haut, d’avancer, pas à pas. Une vidéo montre des mains qui se rencontrent en dessinant. Une tension émane de ses sculptures, entre force et fragilité, une envie de toucher dont il faudrait se méfier. Elles renvoient aux relations qui peuvent si facilement se détendre ou se briser, suggèrent la distance et la proximité. L’artiste intervient dans l’architecture pour donner la sensation d’une ascension poétique, d’un certain trouble et en même quasi imperceptible. Ses dessins de mains, à différentes hauteurs, surgissent comme des présences, fantômes de ces premières pièces. Boryana Petkova invite à prendre conscience de chaque geste, comme une étape pour accéder plus loin et toucher nos limites. Ses œuvres contiennent du temps, un potentiel changement. Ses installations in situ, qui surélèvent l’espace, provoquent un basculement de nos points de repères. Par ces insertions quasi invisibles dans l’architecture, intérieur et extérieur, l’artiste nous amène prendre le temps de regarder : une métaphore du soin qu’on peut apporter à chaque moment de la vie pour leur donner toute leur importance. En nous mesurant à l’espace, nous nous mesurons à l’autre. Ses œuvres se relient ensemble par leur transparence, finesse et préciosité et nous convient à des allers-retours, du sol jusqu’au plafond.

Pauline Lisowski MUTUUS -exposition des lauréats de la biennale de la jeune création européene de Mulhouse

La relation du dessin à l’espace et au corps est au centre de la pratique de Boryana Petkova. Pour elle, le dessin est comme un horizon des possibles et sert d’outil de dépassement de soi et d’exploration. Elle appréhende le dessin dans sa multidimensionnalité, cherchant aussi bien à en décrypter l’essence sonore, le volume, que les limites. Elle s’astreint souvent à travailler sous contrainte pour pousser son expression plus loin. Loin de contrôler le dessin, elle le laisse la modifier. Son langage minimaliste est à l’affût du moindre instant où le dessin bifurque, sort de lui-même pour signifier davantage. C’est un peu comme si elle le prenait à contrepied… comme si ses dessins en creux révélaient autre chose, pointaient du doigt ce qu’on a tendance à ne pas regarder ou à sous-estimer.

Clélia Coussonet

The most laconic description of the drawing as a process is to leave a trace with a tool selected by the artist on a material specified for the artistic intervention. The drawing is the shortest and quickest way to visualize ideas, and in this sense, the spontaneous reaction leading to the appearance of lines on the drawing surface as well as the unintentional gesture, is sealed directly into the final result. The American anthropologist Ellen Dissanayake formulates the making of art as “the ability to shape and thereby exert some measure of control over the untidy material of everyday life ». For Boryana Petkova, drawing is an act of understanding the world, and not an artistic practice with particular media. She documents the drawing process from different points of view – physical movement of the hand and interaction with architecture and its surfaces, the sounds produced by the one who is drawing and the music derived of these sounds, or computer-modelled three-dimensional shapes, the specifics of observation in drawing, or briefly – Boryana analyses the line’s ability to follow the movement of thought. In one of his studies, the British professor Tim Ingold, presented the development of the idea of the line through Indian communication systems, along threads in fabrics and quipu, ancient ceramics, the sand drawings of the Australian tribe Walbiri, geographic maps, musical notation, the writing system and calligraphy, the pattern of connections that are used by research and genealogy and so on. In conclusion, one of his findings is that “the fragmented postmodern line does not progressively pass from one destination to another, but from one point of rupture to another. These points are not locations but dislocations, segments out of joint.” The hand that holds the pencil in Boryana’s works does not just draw lines on the white plate, it scours territories, creates paths, gives a meaning to surfaces, leaves traces of work in limited spaces, traces describing emotional states, traces of immediate reactions to the physical environment, traces of the effort to overcome borders. Along these routes, the artist tracks the possibility of restoring missing links or reflects on the cause of their loss in the context of an increasingly fragmented world.

Irina Batkova for the exhibition H220cm, Plus359 Gallery 2018

The exhibition of Boryana Petkova and André Serre-Milan is minimalistic – it consists entirely of abstract drawings, sound and documentary materials. It builds upon, or changes the mechanisms of techniques, featuring established functions, which are deemed classical to modern art. Automatic writing, or drawing. Usage of text in the quality of an image. Digital reproduction, reiteration, authorship disclaimer. In all these, there in the center is the artist’s thought, much more than the intuition and feelings, even when it comes to deliberate quitting thoughts. Along with that, however, there is a bright emotional halo hovering above the exhibition – all the artistic experiments are based on a true romantic story dating back to the time of the First World War. As well as on the classic analog painting by hand.

Drawing transmutes into obsession and hard physical labor. The way this sensation to be also experienced by viewers is they to have the opportunity to live it through in a performance. The story of a parted couple is recreated in the form of two separate drawings. The one, created by Boryana Petkova for about two days, is hung on a wall in one of the ateliers of Cité Internationale des Arts in Paris. Its digital copy is projected on a wall in Contemporary Space, Varna. On the adjacent wall, before, during and after the exhibition opening, the making of the other drawing is proceeding. The goal is the drawing to gradually emerge and that many people participate in its creation: first, the instructed curator, and then the audience. It’s no accident the drawings are made straight on the walls. It is important for the authors that the drawings should not have a frame and that they do not exist for a long time, in some sense to flow out as a sound of certain duration. This is supplemented by authorship disclaimer. The process of drawing in Varna is not controlled and there are only simple guidelines. The result is an “original” drawing, a one and only copy that cannot be printed out in multiple print runs and is made by hand – it has all the signs of the classic drawing and all the features of the classic performance. But the most important thing about each drawing, and about the performance, is what it actually depicts. The drawings in Paris and in Varna look like abstractions, but they are not – they represent the overlaid names “Stoyan” and “Siyka”, written out hundreds of times.

The letters, exchanged between Anastasia Tabakova (a teacher in the village of Mihaltsi) and Stoyan Georgiev Hadzhiev (a soldier in the 29th Yambol Regiment), are kept in the Gorna Oryahovitsa Historical Museum. While separated because of the war, they exchanged about a thousand letters and postcards, from 1914 to 1920, when Stoyan returned to Gorna Oryahovitsa. Their correspondence is the starting visual material for today’s art project and part of it is present in the exhibition as documentation. For Boryana Petkova and André Serre-Milan the specific content of the letters is not so much important but rather the systematic maintenance of the connection, even if one is not aware whether the other one would send a reply, where he is, and even whether he is alive. Importance is laid on the study of the mechanics of movement and the resulting sound, on the similarity between writing and drawing. They recognize the hand-written text as a drawing and deal with it taking namely that perspective. From the point of view of art, these abstract drawings represent an analysis of the question whether a work of art can be both concrete and abstract. This writing-drawing is mechanical process, but the action goes along with the experiencing of emotions. Such complex conclusions have been reached following multiple experiments with automatic drawing, in parallel with reading of the letters and recording of the sound.

The exhibition also includes part of the many drawings resulting from this experiment. The work, which has an even higher status, is the sound composed by André Serre-Milan.  Portraying a written text in terms of sound is a powerful affecting element. The sound record is edited and processed digitally so that the listener can hear writing, drawing or breathing, without clearly distinguishing the different actions.
In an era, in which a digitally reproducible image has long assumed a fully artistic status, more and more artists rethink the analog means of expression and the (viewer’s) personal interference they allow. Whether participating with his/her own emotions or experiencing the story of Siyka and Stoyan, the spectator is involved in the artwork physically and mentally.

Daniela Radeva  
Contemporary Space Gallery, Varna
April 5-28, 2018