12 - 28 September 2023

The title of the exhibition underlines the subtle symbolism encoded in the showcased works. The power of hidden meanings fills them to the brim, as is typical in all artistic expressions of the artist Velcha Velchev.

"Shadows" (senke in Serbian) is a clue that is hard to follow, since many pieces from the show are mainly two-dimensional (canvases collected from old military barracks, with all the weight of the history behind them), on which the artist has arranged small pieces of wood (up to four thousand per canvas!). Adhered in an unfailing way to the textile medium, those slight and tiny protuberances generate a field of punctual pulses of shadow. Tenuous, fragile, subtle shadows on a canvas loaded with memories and suffering.

The artist recalls a sacred place from his hometown, Dimitrovgrad: a fountain where people left all kinds of objects tied to the trees near the holy water fountain (handkerchiefs, belts, bras…). Those objects were also intended as votive offerings. But the most impressive detail and what left the biggest mark in the artist’s memory was the limestone behind the fountain, a huge stone full of small holes, many of them plugged with pieces of carved wood. Attached to those wooden pieces, one could find small handwritten pieces of cloth that contained wishes and prayers: it was a sort of wailing wall.

Thus, we arrive along this path of memory to the works that constitute the core of the current exhibition, where enormous canvases with tiny pieces of wood appear as "wailing walls", sediments of lives and projects, traces of worn-out desires, amulets of illusions lost in the horizon and faded by the friction of time. This is perhaps the exhibition with the heaviest sacred imprint – in the broad sense of the term – of all that Velcha Velchev has created during his long career. The canvases, loaded with symbolism and memory, are accompanied by striking totems – of rusty appearance, despite also being made of wood – both the columns as well as the small fragments that perforate the sculptures. The artist achieved this effect by painting them with a mixture that reacts chemically, producing the appearance of ferric or cupric oxide. Velcha Velchev's canvases contain true mosaics of desires and frustrations.

Through a work that perpetuates the vocation of conceptual symbolism (the artist’s trademark) and is obviously related to the Arte Povera of Jannis Kounellis, the exhibition "Shadows" is a magnificent manifestation of the sacred in art. An approach to what remains beyond the reach of science and logic, and can only be glimpsed through art and poetry, with the guidance of a master conductor.

Velcha Velchev acts as a medium between the two parallel worlds, and he does so with extraordinary mastery. After all, he tells us, the shadow speaks about what exists on the other side of the light: one can feel what the shadow contains, since it has its own weight in the present, but it’s invisible in this world, as is the fabric which memory is made of – the very substance of any life worth living.



Carlos JOVER





The author

Velcha Velchev