Lyube Petrov aims to create an amusing and unexpected visual narrative. He has a fondness for topics that blur the line between reality and illusion, and create an alternative realm where past and future, reality and fantasy become one. This transformation draws upon the artist’s own understanding of the world around him as well as his sense of humour, his attention to the small details in everyday life, and his positive outlook. He seeks to create an alternative reality with undisguised humour, sarcasm and sometimes even elements of the grotesque. In his characteristic realistic style, the artist combines motifs and imagery from contemporary consumer society (specifically from comics and popular films) with mythological narratives and figures. Through these bizarre scenes, Lyube Petrov explores not only the inexhaustibility of the canvas but also the purpose of human existence and the power of human consciousness in the face of an impending apocalypse. These mythical figures are transformed into the superheroes of our collective future.
In their masterpiece A Thousand Plateaus, Deleuze and Guatarri talk about the principle of becoming an animal. However, it doesn´t mean wearing an animal mask or copying the behaviour of animals, but essentially becoming one ourselves. Such a transformation provides the ability to perceive the world more intensely and sincerely. Thus, we are in the heart of the matter – what else is the work of the artist? Becoming an animal is very similar to being a foreigner or a child. It is they, who, in their view of the world are able to create a synthesis which at first sight seems incompatible or possessing conflicting issues and problems. In Lyuben Petrov’s paintings it is possible to understand this in a similar way. They represent the multicultural landscape of symbols, scenes and themes in unusual combinations. They are known as landscapes in which each step ends with a surprise, they are unclassifiable and bold at the same time.
One of the main principles of the artist’s work which can be seen is transformation. For example, in a series of paintings called Sweet Sixteen; the girls there find themselves in a process of noticing their animal femininity, they are in a position of proud Amazons standing in a defensive pose in front of their attributes of their children’s games and dreams, which are resting in the hall with trophies from the first hunt. The transformation, which is also an ironic commentary on our contradictory relationship to nature, is contained in a series of paintings with animals (Skin1-6, Albinos, Shepherds )This is a paraphrase of colonialist symbology of wildlife subjugation, where the skins of tigers, antelopes and zebras are represented through combinations of two different species of animals as a result of genetic mutation. Another version shows the subject of becoming a domesticated crocodile practicing catching dainties from the human hand. At first glance, these topics are blatant and shocking, so are the colors used. But to think that provocation was the author’s aim would be wrong.
Their contents are too well thought out, eager to be communicated. A Gorilla sitting on a sofa in a pose reminiscent of Urbinská Venus (Venus with orchids) is also a link to the history of art and also an ironic commentary on the cult idealization of feminine beauty, like a couple on vacation watching an oil rig exploding (Boom Boom). This view of the intimate still-life with a disaster is not in any way unreasonable, if we think of the recent oil disaster in the Gulf of Mexico. These images make us feel insecure. They show humorous, moving and very poignant scenes, behind which is hidden a critical reflection on the current state of the society and also a kind of romantic and very important desire for peace. There is an urgent need for a better and fairer world, which is built on his imagination for example from the tradition of Kuker ( the Bulgarian feast, where people dress up in colorful masks to summon fruitful years and drive away evil spirits), or reproduced in Slavic heroes, sleeping princes, knights and mysterious characters sent from heaven. There is no reason to be afraid of grand gestures, we all long for stories. We just need to keep our eyes open and watch. MgA Jana Pisarikova
Apocalypsarium: Expressive painting representation, clear intensity and energetic paste-like spreads of color or distinctive plasticity are the characteristic features of Lyube Petrov’s painting technique. A wide scale of means of expression foreshadows the semantic diversity of fantastic stories, hidden in grotesque pieces that are filled with sarcasm, comical aesthetics, hyperboles and humor but also deeper thoughts about the relationship between people and the nature, which lead to apocalyptic endings.
In his creative development Bulgarian painter Lyube Petrov has come upon the topics that are tightly connected with the cycle of life and death. In his pieces he combines traditions, symbols and elements of Eastern and Western culture on the field of motives from the history of art comprising Christian iconography, mythological motives, but also abstract topics inspired by sci-fi literature and film. With his work he voices his ironic comment on the current state of civilization, which he calls the “Apocalypsarium”, i.e. the beginning of the end and through this he directly calls for the breaking points of human existence. That is why he makes such an enormous effort to capture the moment. With the author’s own words, the apocalypse is ever-present, never stopping so constantly moving and in the process it mutates. The characters are caught up in somewhat of a trance, left alone in the world, sucked in by a natural catastrophe – apocalypse – whilst the story stays a mystery for the spectators; it could only be guessed and increases the excitement from an unfinished story. The stopping of the deciding moment is covered in a magical aura, however the content of the pieces has a deep mental foundation and gives evidence of philosophical maturity of the young author.
Bulgarian painter Lyube Petrov (*1984) majored in wall painting in 2007 in an art academy in Sofia. His studies concentrated mainly on mastering the technique and craft in the spirit of realism. Petrov still concentrates on the composition and a well thought formal structure in his traditional figural motives. From his birth country of Bulgaria he has brought the influences of Boyan Dobrev, Ivo Bistrichki or Georgi Andonov. After moving to the Czech Republic he studied Fine Arts in Martin Maier’s studio and finished in 2011.
Because of the global connection between the society, culture and the tradition, the author looks at the topics from two different angles. He combines the traditional features with links to phenomena of the current consumer society (comics, films) and with the help of this ironic mythology he creates a whole new reality or rather appreciates his cultural heritage. Playfully and entertainingly he connects the past with the present and with his artistic imagination he puts in front of us a vision of the future or perhaps a mysterious space of timelessness?
Lyube Petrov explores not only the inexhaustibility of the canvas but also the purpose of human existence through the bizarre characters, who demonstrate the power of thought of a being facing the apocalypse. The figures become the superheroes of our future.