Boryana Petkova‘s video 2 hands drawing from 2017 ends with several phrases among which: “The way of seeing is a kind of touch” and “To see is a contact at a distance”. There exactly I find the artist‘s philosophy and her attempt to look (and the spectator together with her) beyond surface perception of a racing pace of present time. It is not only about looking of an eye but mainly about looking of mind and heart, as an alternative to an empty wandering of a glance, of inner blindness, of cut ties with simple rules and norms of living.
How we look, how we recognize, how we notice what is happening around us is at the root of Boryana Petkova‘s works. Looking is a strong tool equated to touching and the energy given by this physical act. The artist wants to draw different dimensions of looking – far from simple seeing. She tries to oppose to a mad rush of millions of images that we are daily surrounded with; to make us stop; to bring back our capacity to concentrate and recognize signals. Contemporary world is a machine for production of images but the speed of their appearance and their passing in front of our eyes like a fast paced cadence turns them into a kaleidoscope – beautiful, coloured, playful but without a possibility to see through beyond it.
The way in which Boryana Petkova makes us change our own attitudes is by using the most fragile tools – pencil drawing, porcelain, glass, an ordinary moving image. To a high extent they represent instability, vulnerability and delicacy of vision. They are initial materials far from sophisticated and complex technology. This is by itself already a message and a warning – a kind of return to the initial, to an initial substance, a move to facilitate a change of our inner attitudes toward everything that surrounds us.
In the video Link (up-down) through drawing there is an attempt for a dialogue, for an entering intimate spheres of the mind, where screaming is easier than trying to speak out loud. In IN VIVO the porcelain bleeds – there is an advantage taken of its fragility in the most brutal way but a comparison of material‘s thickness to that of human skin is an obvious reference to a world of animate objects. In Trying to touch the sky, 2019 and +220 cm, 2018 the author tries to overcome herself, as well as human nature in general with its inclination to undervalue, be distracted and miss the signs.
Boryana Petkova‘s hand is easily recognizable, no matter what kind of media she uses. A feeling of organic whole of idea, material and performance is found even in the smallest of objects. Her oeuvre is definitely distinguished for an original hand and without being placard or declarative, it performs a serious analysis, as well as it carries a powerful message to the world we live in.
Maria Vassileva – critique d’art, curator, directeur Structura gallery
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 – curator, artistique directeur Plus359 gallery
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 – independent curator, art editor, writer