Denitsa Todorova, 1984 (Plovdiv, Bulgaria)
Denitsa Todorova completed her Master of Arts at the Royal Academy of Fine Arts in Antwerp in 2010. She works and lives in Antwerp.By picking up symbols from her surroundings Denitsa Todorova creates her own imaginary world. A picturesque reality twist, based on mystery illuminations and visual poetry. What she finds essential is the state of the emotions that the viewer encounters after being exposed to her works. Denitsa is an explorer, she creates her own research out of the images and memories stored in her imagination. She tells a story by playing with light and space. Her works are very much influenced by perceptions of life and death, metaphysical ideas and the interactions with the surroundings.Denitsa’s work is deeply inspired by religious symbols and rituals, the re-birth ideology and the sense of memories. At the end all the elements are blended together based on her own sensitivity for balance and aesthetics. The result is a never ending dialogue, questioning the illusions of time and evolving with our inner reflection. Recently Denitsa Todorova made a new series of drawings using pencil on paper. She explores the possibilities and the boundaries of drawing leading to a new perspective and view on drawing. For the artist drawing means discovery and that is not just a slick phrase; it is quite literally true. Denitsa has been working on a series of abstract graphite drawings using different and new techniques leading to a kind of rebirth of abstract drawing. She thinks that the artist should never limit his/her journey to only one medium. In her work she is constantly looking for a dialog between painting and drawing. Her attitude towards drawing is not only about drawing. It’s about the best kind of images she can make. The process of making these graphite drawings is very intensive and requires great concentration. There are two ways to make them. First she constructs the drawings by adding material and then she sweeps the black graphite off the paper and as a result she obtains new forms. This working method is very similar to the preparation of a canvas. It shows the influence of her education as a painter. As a painter she also worked with the removal of various parts of the canvas and the interaction between several layers. Denitsa makes drawings that appear to be abstract but they are built up as a composition. For her an abstract drawing is something very structured. Although the drawings look very spontaneous there has been a reflection on every line. In her most recent works she examined the development of abstract drawing and proposed her vision on how you could still go further with abstract images by developing an own vision of drawing that combines concentration and focus on an illusion of something that in reality doesn’t exist. The works provoke a mysterious atmosphere and show a new visual language that leaves the viewer behind with a feeling of disruption and the spirit of metaphysical poetry.
Denitsa Todorova has developed a unique drawing process in which she covers the entire surface of the thin paper with a layer of graphite in order to take it off again revealing the composition. The drawing is produced through the removal of graphite and not through adding as is done traditionally. This technique, which leans to sgraffito, a practice commonly known in Eastern Europe, where the roots of the artist lay. The production process is labour-intensive and requires a huge amount of concentration from the artist as well as from the viewer. Because of the ambiguous representational character of the work –between abstract and figurative- our brain automatically tries to identify some recognizable elements. One might think of the landscape of Los Angeles, to sunspots, or even to shimmer on the water surface. However wild our imagination runs, the viewer fails to grasp the image and is confronted with the impossibility of an object related content. The audience is faced with a mental space that the artist masterfully constructs and can merely relate to ephemeral concepts like time or space. This idea resonates with the spiritual or the sublime in art. A term most closely associated with a spiritual experience is the sublime. The sublime stems from philosophy, most famously the writings of Burke and Kant. In Romanticism the concept of the sublime roamed the writing about art and continues to be relevant through the writing by Jean-Francois Lyotard. The reason being that the Sublime ‘says the unspeakable’, as thus art. A tradition we can trace back to Romantic period, think of Casper David Friedrich’s Monk by the Sea (1809), where the concept of the spiritual is introduced through the overwhelming force of nature. At the same time the painting is seen as one of the first experiments into abstraction, as the American art history professor Robert Rosenblum famously explained in his publication Modern Painting and the Northern Romantic Tradition: Friedrich to Rothko (1975). Denitsa Todorova’s work echoes similar feelings. The resurgence of the sublime unites different periods; firstly the Romantic, the Abstract and today. Nowadays through the rise of the digitalization a new form of the sublime can be distinguished. Within the overload of images, or the accumulated effect of the flow of images, the stillness of drawings can create new meaning. It is in this new wave that Todorova’s work can be situated.