Transitions, Interview with Stanislav Pamukchiev

Stanislav Pamukchiev, The Ancestors – diptych, 2015.



Milla Tarabanova:  Art’s main goal is to elevate but your work takes the spectator through the dark to lead him beyond to the light. Isn’t this the experience known as an “initiation”?

Stanislav Pamukchiev: I see art as a possibility to step back, to break free of the crippling frame of everyday existence and to activate the deeply suppressed and encrypted in our subconscious content which deeply motivates the energies of life.

I understand the artistic act as a sublimation of all emotional – psychic and spiritual energies as a projection of the whole person. I consider the artistic act as a conclusive act that goes beyond all boundaries. The call of curiosity towards the spiritual is an action that crosses limits and borders.

The transition from one state to another is actually an act of initiation, of a difficult passage through trial and pain, through the symbolic denial and rebellion in the dimension of the physical to rediscover and to be reborn for the other. “The path of light goes through the dark”- the spiritual ecstasy of Dostoevsky supplemented my intuitive ideas about these vast dimensions.

People who understand what I do literally are often disturbed by the chthonic symbolism. On the other hand, the courageous and the seeking ones among them are rewarded. Yes, art is actually an act of initiation and that is the reason why the eminent works of the great masters exalt and transform us and they do not lose the intensity of their deep spiritual meaning through time.


MT:  It is one of the ordinances of exclusive groups and societies. How does the spectator accept your challenge?

SP:  The enlightenment of the wise has affected the entire evolution of humankind. In the Upanishads it is said: “The absolute truth has no attributes and it cannot be seen by the mind”. This supports the idea of the intuitive insight as being much deeper and substantial. And intuition is the main instrument of art. The hermetic message: “… if you do not take away the materialness of matter and do not create in matter the substances that are ridden of materialness, you will not achieve what you expected…” – I have taken this formula as a verbal expression of what I look for and what I do. In its ontological function, art is Opus – the alchemic act of transformation.


MT:  Who will the spectators meet in your works – themselves, a greater Self, God?

SP: The creative act is that of disclosing oneself. The spectator is offered a path of self-revelation and self-understanding. The question of identification is a disturbing one in our extremely scattered and fragmented life. Absorbed in the material, in serving the everyday needs, we are doomed under the reign of racing time. That is why we are so hysterically unnerved with a restless and deeply unsatisfied Self and desperate of the meaninglessness of existence.

In my utopian artistic project I am trying to give back an insight to the fundamental, to the primordial – to integrate man with himself. In my work, Mircea Eliade gave me the horizon of the great mythological time – a term about the constant regeneration, repeated indefinitely, connecting the end with the beginnings – a way of thinking of the unbearable category Eternity.


MT:  Is art a religious experience as Jung saw it as a method for healing the mind and the soul?

SP:  Art is a medium for talking about the invisible and immaterial things. It is part of the spirit and the ideas of all time, the visualization of matters close to those of philosophy and religion. For the better part of human history known to us – it has sought the face of God. Thus it has participated in building the vertical hierarchies. Today art is infinitely extensive in its objectives and functions. In a time of total secularization, the pursuit of metaphysical horizons is a lonely endeavor.

I believe that humankind possesses the deep principal essence and the intuitive recognition of it. Going into the archetypical and atavistic levels, raking out psychic and spiritual sediment, one may find the “living” energies for rebooting. Looking into our own depths requires finding the trail of the eternal return, the spiritual and generic memory, tracking the footprints of the moral and spiritual experience as a support for a new start.


MT:  Let’s talk about the symbolism of the materials, the images, the number symbolism…

SP: The substitution of the oil paints with materials such as ash, charcoal, soil, stone, hay, wax, metal, resins and other is the natural result of my pursuit of the adequate plastic  enunciation of the essence at hand. The reverse process of recognizing these connotations in the life of the materials, of their semantic density and multi-dimensionality is vital to my work. I developed for myself the substantial dimensions in the process of experimentation with the plastic medium. The battle is for achieving a fusion of the material with the essence, an image and a sculptural symbolism of the energies of regeneration and decay, of materialization and dematerialization, an expression of the tension in the relationship time – matter, matter – spirit.

I insist that the sculptural expression be live and meaningful, to be emotionally active attacking the spectator through the senses and the psyche. After which everyone, each according to what they have accumulated, to decode as much as they can the symbolic depth of the ash – witness of the great transformation of fire. To discover the strength and the sacrament in the impenetrable openings and holes, the creative and the destructive energies in the black earth; to discover the strength in the symbolism of charcoal, wax, hay and stone. To recognize the sacred in the ordinary, in the ritual of living.


MT: Can it be said that everything that you have been working on since the beginning of the 90’s, after your painting  Along the river (1991), can be united around one theme?

SP: After 1991 I changed the expressive medium, the size, I broke out of the methods of the traditional paintings in order to experiment in a wider understanding of painting, to enter the painting – an object evolving towards three-dimensional compositions, shaped objects and installations. I understood my behavior, ritualized and turned the act of doing into part of the coded image.

In a wide range of artistic practices I find the “faces” of the principal essences. The insistence on that fixed content and the power of the idiomatic plastic expression created the whole concept of a visual-plastic mythopoetics – a mythopoetics which seeks a metaphysical horizon.

The most generally interpreted concept can be defined and be called: Passing. This fixed thematic line looks for its grounds in the tension, the emotional – psychic and spiritual movement towards a borderline state. What I do can be defined as an experience on the threshold of the borderline. It is emotionally and existentially concentrated by showing the energies and the tension of a borderline state, by turning the limited into something limitless, of shifting the single and specific into a singular whole.


MT: Are the physical and the spiritual worlds equally important?

SP: We are made of flesh and bone as our Maker created us. And again according to his design, a soul was bestowed to us and we carry the spark of the Creator. We are doomed to carnal mortality and creative rebellion against it. The dual nature of man, his existential drama is the creative energy of humankind.

Art tries to find the questions and the answers of this existential pressure. That is why it is dramatic – grand. According to the words of Nikolai Berdyaev: …..Sorrow is directed towards the world beyond and is accompanied by the feeling of insignificance, emptiness and mortality of this world…it talks of the loneliness in the face of the transcendent”. As regards to the strength and the reconciliation of the oppositions: material – spiritual, male – female, light – darkness, I found as if biggest consolation in the ideas of Eastern wisdom, mostly Daoism.


MT:  What has changed for you since you were awarded the Vladimir Dimitrov the Master award?

SP: The award in the name of Vladimir Dimitrov the Master holds a high moral and spiritual credit. Those who love art and are marked by it inhabit a space, a space illuminated by the aura of the teachers, the great masters.

The award “The Master” aside from being a recognition of the craft, I accepted with excitement as a symbolic act of acceptance to that which I regard as the generic and spiritual memory. It imposes an obligation.


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