Plamen Kirilov. Travelling time

Dechko Uzunov House Museum

4.4.2024 — 26.5.2024

Katya Hristova
Georgi Sharov
Lora Sultanova
Joanna Bradshaw

When Dechko Uzunov was asked in 1983 whether he was returning to his old work, and who was watching him from there, he replied: ‘Still the same kid who goes down the wooden staircase holding a mirror. His feet are on the ground, but his eyes – on the mirror, reflecting the clouds above…’

It is this very feeling of a return to the indelible memories of childhood that enfolds you when you stand in front of Plamen Kirilov’s paintings. A return to those places, people and experiences which seem to lose their plausibility and clear outlines, but continue to be carved into our consciousness.

An illusory feeling of trying to stop the passage of time in order to preserve what has gone before, and to create from it worlds free from busyness, filled with easy communication, in which you are defenceless and small, losing track of time. You pass slowly through all these imaginary and real spaces filled with invisible presences, into which, as you enter, you become an accomplice to the creation of history. And we start to see things we already know in a new light, as if someone has managed to explain this particular piece of the world to us, to bring into focus not only our attention, but the object itself. As to whether it’s worth examining, here we are prompted by all the other senses that Plamen Kirilov’s art will unlock in us.

The pieces in this exhibition were painted over varying time periods, but all of them bear the mark of lived experience, echoes of memories of places you’ve lived and people you’ve known. A particular return, in the attempt to find a visible image of what has passed. Travelling time, retracing its steps, trying to make sense and accept before moving on once more.

Rendered in oils and acrylics, the paintings evoke the ease of a child’s drawing, with the mastery of a person who has long left those memories behind. The hypnotic objects seeming to appear in the pictures from nowhere, as if randomly, are perhaps a particular message from an unknown past, or are trees, birds, clouds, or windows into our personal worlds. Or maybe they are just an abstraction in which the human eye seeks the familiar, hoping to return to the warmth of memory. Travelling back to the past, a nostalgia which cleanses, rebuilds or just restores memories, so we can ask ourselves whether we really did see something, if it actually did exist if we haven’t stashed it in our memory.

Plamen Kirilov was born in 1982 in Stara Zagora. He graduated from the ‘Academician Dechko Uzunov’ National High School of Plastic Arts and Design in Kazanlak in 2000. He continued his education at the National Academy of Arts in Sofia, graduating in 2005 and specialising in textiles. He has taken part in a number of collective national and international exhibitions. He was awarded distinctions for painting by the Bridges Triennial in Gabrovo in 2021, the National Exhibition of Fine Arts in Sliven in 2020, and the Autumn Salon in Stara Zagora in 2007. He has taken part in plein air painting workshops in Bulgaria, Serbia and Romania. He has held solo exhibitions in Stara Zagora, Burgas, Sevlievo and Gabrovo. He works mainly in the field of painting, and for the last few years on frescos in churches.