I am generally not this type of mother, but in this post I intend to brag about the accomplishments of my son :).
(Endless) Talk about other people’s children usually bores me, so most of the time I try to spare the others what I don’t like to be done to me.
But on May 24 the drawing school my son, Philip, goes to, had an end-of-the-year exhibition, which I thought was an interesting event to share.
This is the only painting my poor child has produced that has not music as its main theme. He plays the classical guitar too, we go to the same teacher, but knowing how hard it is to get him to practice, I am really surprised to see the many music-dominated works he has been painting.
You’d say maybe he uses art to vent his frustration with his overambitious mother :). Who knows.
The gadulka player reminded me of a similar painting by Ivan Milev (1897-1927), regarded as the founding father of the Bulgarian Secession and immortalised on the BGN 5 banknote currently in use. (BGN 5 is roughly EUR 2.5). “Father” is a pompous word really, given that the man died of influenza at 30…
Milev was a very original artist – he experimented with innovative techniques and all his work was centred on the daily life of the Bulgarian peasants, which he depicted with flamboyant shapes and colours, layering and melting into each other and adding a wild, fairy-tale dimension to the scenes depicted. Milev lived in abject poverty, barely making ends meet with decoration and scenography jobs.
He is also remembered for being totally unstuck by the Western European artistic and musical heritage. When in Italy once, he is documented to have commented on statues by Michelangelo et al. – “Impressive works, but they are not for us.” The fervent search of what is “for us” was the leitmotif of Milev’s short life.
Ivan Milev is one of Bulgaria’s four prominent painters, belonging to the same generation and born in the guns-and-roses-dominated town of Kazanlak . The other three are Dechko Uzunov (1899-1986), Nenko Balkanski (1907-1977) and Chudomir (1890-1967), who was also a most compelling writer (Renaissance people, remember?:)).
Chudomir’s wife Mara Nonova, born in the central Bulgarian town of Tryavna, was also a talented artist. I had a great time visiting the homes of these painters in Kazanlak, but, as book The Secret Dairy of Laura Palmer used to say – More (on that) – later. 🙂
Having a guitar in the composition of Bulgarian artwork is not that uncommon, at least not for artist Nenko Balkanski:
Although more subtly, the guitar is also present here, to the far left:
Now let’s take a look at two still life paintings featuring a guitar:
This is Philip’s. 🙂 It can be barely seen from the picture, but he has actually labelled the score according to what he was studying then – A Czech Song, a melody called Haenchen Klein which is a very popular children’s song in Bulgaria and A Dance. 🙂 The clock is probably what he’s looking at to check whether the 30 minutes I have told him he should practice have passed. 🙂 Again, I love the sky seen through the window and the songbird. The attention to detail is very endearing too. Philip may not become a great painter but attention to detail develops the brain.
So, as you see, much like the point in great book The Foucault Pendulum by Umberto Eco, one can see links between random things, provided one looks hard enough. 🙂 Still, two other things connected to teaching music and children come to my mind.
And one more, which kind of portrays me, or the mother figure, as well:
Both above cartoons were blueprints being prepared for publishing in humorist newspapers, hence all the notes, figures and arrows on them. My husband and I bought those from the son of the man who was the editor in charge of preparing the cartoons. He had a huge collection from which we selected eight and placed them around the flat. These two are the only ones on the topic of music. I like them a lot.
And now, since we spoke about music and Kazanlak, I will treat you to a great piece by Kazanlak-born pianist and composer Petko Staynov (1896-1977), whose house I could not visit while in town, because it was temporarily closed. What is remarkable about Staynov, apart from his great symphonic and choral music, is that he had been completely blind since childhood.
The work that I bring to your attention is again called Ratchenitsa, part of Staynov’s Thracian Dances Suite of 1925, and is a 2012 open-air performance in front of Bulgaria’s National Theatre Ivan Vazov in Sofia.
The funny thing is that two of the orchestra members are a family and now I know them, because their daughter goes to the same ballet class as mine 🙂 We share tips on making stable ballerina up-dos and on the best places to buy fine ballerina tights (not the dance costume shops, they cost an arm and a leg there!)
So – the world is small, and Bulgaria is even smaller. If one digs deeper, it may turn out that we are all some sort of cousins…:)