Jenny Ivanova is a contemporary artist who describes herself as "an incorrigible optimist, an incorrigible perfectionist, an inveterate extremist on French aesthetics, and a lover of jazz music". Her paintings are described as decorative, abstract, and geometric.
She has a long list of participation in public exhibitions, diplomas in Icon Painting, Mural Painting, and Scenography, and specialization at Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris, and since 2018 is a member of the Union of the Bulgarian Artists.
In 2019, she held her first solo exhibition "Crescendo" in the "Petak" bar, in Sofia. Four years later, with her second solo exhibition to date - PERSONA, she takes us back in time to immerse ourselves in the world of Art Deco.
Can you tell us a little more about yourself and how you came to be an artist?
At the age of 5, I won a prize in a children's drawing competition. The truth is, I don't remember what I drew, but the award and my interest in art led my family to enroll me in drawing lessons. An absolutely conscious choice after that was art high school in Sliven and the dream Academy, of course. An interesting thing I remember now is that my first chocolate egg toy was a little artist with a palette. To this day I keep it and it is in a prominent place. I am a person who believes in fate and the signs it sends us.
You studied icon painting, mural painting, and scenography. How have these different artistic disciplines influenced your art?
Icon painting and Mural painting are very close specialties. The difference is that in icon painting you learn canons and there are rules, while mural painting gives you the freedom to paint what you want. Scenography, on the other hand, teaches you to defend your thesis, because the main feature of it is teamwork, and every creative decision you make must be justified. My course supervisor Prof. Marina Raichinova used to say:
The artist is like a dog, he understands everything but cannot speak, but the scenographer refutes this thesis.
You mention that you draw inspiration from literature, music, and philosophy. Are there specific works or artists that have had a significant influence on your work?
I have a cycle of paintings inspired by Richard Bach's novel Jonathan Livingstone The Seagull. The artists I learn from and will learn from are Tamara Lempicka, Picasso, Gauguin, and others.
What is your typical creative process when starting work on a new piece?
I start with a long thought, what to draw, what is this thing that has not been done, that I like and, above all, it is a pleasure for me to draw it. Then it's time for sketching. And only then is the white canvas and the sweetest part.
Depending on my mood I can paint during the day or very late at night, I love the freedom I have.
How do you manage to balance precision with artistic expression in your work?
Thanks to icon painting, I have precision, and from mural painting, I have artistic expression and drawing skills, which are extremely important.
You can't be an artist if you don't have knowledge of anatomy, perspective, color science, composition, etc.
Can you tell us about your inspiration for the PERSONA exhibition?
Last summer, a friend, who subsequently became the curator of the exhibition, Haritha Assumani, broke her jewelry, and I accompanied her to Velmar Jewelry House, where she had the cord replaced. Entering this space I was speechless, I am a lover of French aesthetics, and everything there is reminiscent of it, high ceilings, wooden windows, and floors. Aristocratic atmosphere, I fell in love!
I had been thinking about this space for months and started the cycle of paintings from Persona, not yet realizing what was ahead of me. I made a few paintings and said to myself, I can't help but try, and I met the owner of the jewelry house, who liked my work, and we decided to do an exhibition, and we set a date.
I had less than four months to make the remaining paintings, but I was accompanied by my greatest muse. A trial run followed a month before the opening to see how many more paintings I needed. So, on April 20, 2023, Persona was discovered. With 15 paintings made especially for this favorite space.
How did you choose female portraits as the subject of this exhibition?
The Art Deco woman is very characteristic of her social and moral growth during the period. My female portraits are emancipated but gentle. I like this time, if I could choose the time in which to live I would not hesitate in my choice. But my women, in addition to the spirit of the past era, also carry traces of the present. Which makes them belong to neither.
Did you have any specific message you wanted to convey while working on the paintings for PERSONA?
As subjective as beauty is, I seek it with my art. A beauty that is increasingly absent and becoming obsolete in our time. I hope the viewer will discover something for themselves in the eyes of my personas.
Are there specific exhibits in the exhibition that are of great importance to you?
Yes, my favorite paintings are "Simon", "Lian" and "I can buy myself flowers".
You mention that you are "a staunch extremist on the subject of French aesthetics". Can you tell us a little more about what specifically draws you to the French aesthetic?
In 2016, with my master's thesis, I won the highest prize of the National Academy of Arts - creative specialization at the Cité Internationale des Arts, Paris. To this day, I think I know Paris better than Sofia. The thing that I remember the most and that has been imprinted in my mind is the aesthetics. The aesthetics of speech and the ability to live.
Their living is like making art.
What do you think is the biggest challenge of being an artist?
The challenges facing an artist are many. In my case, one of the biggest pluses is that the artists I have learned to draw from all these years were also my teachers. At a very tender age, I was faced with statements that "an artist's house does not feed", "everyone has the right to criticize the artist", about what consequences the hand position would lead to when painting, about the risk of working with turpentine, etc. But is there any profession without challenges?
What has been your proudest moment as an artist so far?
In the present. Persona's success exceeded all my expectations and I'm still happy about it. But I'm quite a self-critical person and after some other day I'll say to myself "Enough lying on my old laurels, get to work".
What are some common misconceptions about artists that you would like to dispel?
Everyone has the right and the freedom to think what they want about artists! I think I learned my lesson well.
What's next for you? Do you have any upcoming projects or exhibitions?
Yes, I have another solo exhibition planned this year - in October at the Elephant Gallery, which I will start thinking about soon. Apart from it, I also have participation in several group exhibitions.
And finally - if someone were to see only one piece of your art, which piece would you recommend and why? :)
There is a painting called "Riding the High Inner" with birds in flight, a flight that interrupts life and stops time. A moment to discover yourself.
🔗 Instagram: @jennyiivanova
🌎 Website: jennyiivanova.com
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