Interview with Vladimir Hristov, Contemporay Painter

Artist to Artist by © Rocío Heredia

Vladimir, please tell us something about yourself, where did you grow up, and what did you dream to become when a child?
I was born and grown up in Skopje, Macedonia. It is in the centre of the Balkan Peninsula. It is a small country but characterized by extremes, with really hot and dry summers, but very cold winters. Macedonians are absolutely beautiful and warm people of temper and excitement, who live in the extraordinary formed nature sites coloured in Mediterranean light, all spiced with mystery ancient legends and stories.
I guess all of this has been one of the influences that formed the artist in me. On the other hand I was lucky to have lived in a wonderful artistic family, which is still always beside me. I have always been surrounded with screenplays, art books, sketches, paintings and prints, theatre stage design and 3D-built models lying all around, and the artists who were always visiting my parent's home. My grandfather was a naïve painter and craftsmen, my father is a theatre artist and my brother theatre and movie director.
Today at 32, I am living with my girlfriend Daniela in Amsterdam, The Netherlands, "The Drugs & Sex" capital city of Europe. I am struggling for my desires, i.e. being an artist and succeed as such in this society just like any other person making his path through his/her life.

Vladimir, what brought you to Fine Arts after you studied Science in High School? I am personally curious about what led you to make this change as I first studied as Psychologist, and now I'm a Metal Artist. What pushed you to make this change?
I was always impressed by the human beings' phenomena. That is why I had a need to study science, i.e. biotechnology. I was looking for a way to find some more about living creatures. I just gradually came to the certainty that the only way for me to do that was through art. Although I must say that I am still very interested in subjects that try to explain human nature and behavior in a scientific way.

When were you first aware of your artistic talent? Did studying Fine Art brought you to express it?
During my school days for as long as I can remember I knew I was not in a lack of imagination and/or drawing & painting skills. But for me that was really natural and was never taken as something special nor had only been one crucial moment that made me aware of my artistic talent. Just after living over my personal adolescent dilemmas I decided that what I really wanted to do in my live was art. I concentrated on the artistic part of my individuality and developed my own style.

Would you give us your personal definition of Art?
That would be awfully hard and difficult, especially because I am not supposed to write an essay here. But I will give you some idea of what it might be.
Art is the man's activity of making and expressing analyses on his/her surrounding and his/her relationships with it. Differently from science, art does not deal with standards and facts and is not expressed in numbers and postulates. It can not be proven with simplified and repetitive experiments, and finally it does not only deal with "what one can see" but also with "what one can feel". Furthermore art can depend only on one's pure instinct and imagination. That is why it can not be so easily recognized.

What is your favourite medium, which qualities determine your choice?
My favourite medium is acrylic or a mixed technique of acrylic and oil on canvas. It gives me the chance of working fast and not to always wait for long for the paint to dry. Also, the acrylic paint has really vibrant colours, strong and true expressiveness. It is very loud and intense. It definitely suits my dynamics. On the other hand oil paint is calm and easy, smooth, deep and mysterious. Using both, in a delicate manner, makes me able to express my ideas at best on the surface of the "holy" canvas.

Which movements have you been influenced by? Has your admiration for any other Artist influenced your work?
Although I really can not pick up only one movement or person, I will anyway mention some who are truly constantly present in my studio. They are a few Byzantine Macedonian Fresco painters, the inevitable Beato Angelico, Botticelli, El Greco and Gustav Klimt, and a little known in the Western world but wonderful painter from Macedonia called Konde.
There are many movements and concepts which are important for me. Starting with Byzantine Art, through Renaissance and Middle Age art, some impressionists and expressionist and pre WW2 era, abstract expressionists and "en-formell", through Pop Art till minimalism and conceptualism, there are always some things that evoke certain admiration.

Please define your style. Would you explain how you have developed it to its current very unique status?
I would like to think of my style as: to have all the styles and genres laying available around me. All I must do then is to pick up things that I like and find that are useful to my idea. Then it does not matter to which style they belong, with no matter of thinking abot the alibi. The fact that the matter of techniques in painting has been previously seen as almost as a real perfection, does not implies neither like burden of the past nor excuse not to take the challenges to explore art using the advantages that have already been proven. What really matters is which emotion and which telepathic message the work evokes in the public. I try to communicate with one's conscious and subconscious on the same level. Often using old traditional technique, I try to find my own way of presenting my vision in contemporary life.

I wonder if you are influenced by a particular space or place around you?
Yes, that is very important to my art as it is in my everyday's life. The change of colours from Macedonia where I grew up and developed as an artist, to the ones in Holland where I have been living for the last several years allows me to see the other meanings of lights and colours, atmosphere, peoples differences, other countries horizons, etc. That definitely influences my work deeply. Maybe that is why I like to change my environments rather than being in just one all my life.

How do human beings impact your paintings?
The human being and its nature are crucial in my process of creating art. I very rarely avoid involving the presence of humans in my paintings. They have all my admiration as the highest God's creature on the planet we know. Still, my intention is not to congratulate them on the way they are or to just present how they look like in some particular moment or in a particular place, but to find out things from beyond the front layer. Often my creatures are only human-like, they are human in form and shape but have the implication of not to be such.

I'm tempted to ask if you paint from a preliminary sketch.
No, I never make previous sketches neither I have a precise detailed plan on what will be my next painting. I rather enjoy the moment of creation in every painting session.
Will you take us into your creative process? Where do you get your inspirations?
I don't really believe in the real "moment of inspiration". I don't believe there is only one moment when everything becomes clear, I rather think that every single moment is a valuable piece of "the mosaic". That is why I just simply add and subtract elements on the canvas during all the process of making a painting. I first work on the empty canvas with drawing lines searching for the composition, then I spontaneously look for the forms inside, and find the volumes and colours. I do so every single day until I see that the painting is done. Sometimes it is almost like some other Vladimir is working on the painting. I am very often surprised the next day when I see what I have done in the previous painting session. Then I try to select the elements I find appropriate tod find the logic inside that communicate with the previously "subconsciously" made image.

While looking through your Résumé, I found you were Art Director of several movies. Will you please tell us about that?
I have been very interested in Film and Video since I was a child. Making the design for stage or for a film is like creating a huge sculpture or painting or an art installation. The fact that my brother was the film director on most of them made things even more enjoyable.

It is easy for you to combine those two things: multimedia projects and painting. What relationship do you see between them?
They are both visual media arts. They both deal with similar problems, and they can easily complement to each other. The fact that multimedia is so young makes it more excited and seductive, on the other hand painting as a media for itself and exists for thousands of years, and have survived till today. They communicate between perfectly till certain level and than they just go to each own ways.

What have been the favourite projects to date in your career, and why?
There is no favourite project that I have worked on. Simply because I haven't been working very often on projects that I don't like.

What is your purpose as an artist?
The goal is to be able to express my visions of other humans and non-humans, i.e. spirits and ghosts, gods and demons, etc. If some of them become highly emotionally affected by a painting of mine, than already one of the tasks that I have is achieved.

How do you think Internet will affect Art? Do you think that the Internet has positive and/or negative effects on Art?
The Art is much bigger and more powerful in human civilization than Internet. Therefore Internet can not really damage art. It can only be positive but maybe only in longer term. It seems sometimes that all those "new technologies" produce "cheep" art, but I believe that it will come to the point when all will find its place and will work together perfectly. Please do not forget the new possibilities that Internet offers. For example, otherwise I wouldn't be doing this interview and spreading my art beliefs to the Web Gallery viewers.

What do you hope visitors to this exhibition at BTDesign Art Gallery will gain from viewing it?
I hope they will recognize the quality and freshness in my art, and will be enjoying in my works.

What are your immediate plans for your future? On what are you currently working? Would you give us a preview?
I am intensively preparing exhibitions, i.e. painting and finding appropriate places where to exhibit the works. In between, I am busy with other things as usual, like building interesting Web sites and some designs. I am also evolved in my brother's next feature film project, for which we will have preview on Internet soon.

Do you feel you have been personally blessed since embracing the life of an Artist?
Yes, definitely I think that being an artist is an honour profession with own duties. It has its disadvantages, but being an artist is the only way of living I can go through and being satisfied with. That is because I can not ignore my visions, my need of visual expressing, and needs of movement and dynamic in the process of thinking and creating things. I find it as a most pleasant entrapment. So, I think it is a kind of blessing.

Finally, If you could offer one bit of advice to the emerging artists what would it be?
Try to make things in any possible way, or try to see most different ways of making things, but search for yours, and don't pay too much attention on others opinion. But you must do all that while being aware of the fact that that particular way is not the only one. That is very important in understanding the paths of the things, and the only way of how to build your own foundation. And never, but never go for the "cheap" excuse, or easy appreciation. You should always ask for beyond that.

Dear Vladimir, me and I am sure our viewers, appreciate your time and responses to my questions.

Interview with Vladimir Hristov, Conducted by Rocío Heredia

Copyright Note: Interview © November 2002 Rocío Heredia. All rights reserved. Unauthorized reproduction is forbidden. Originally published on BTDesign Art Gallery. Banners by Barbara Tampieri © BTDesign Art Gallery. All Rights Reserved. Throughout this website all images, text files, or other material is all copyrighted by Rocio Heredia and/or named authors, and may not be used elsewhere on the net, within other websites, or in print, without the written permission of the site owner and/or author. For express permission to copy articles, please contact us.