A Nectar of Love, Sealed in the Portraits of Artists, Elin RAHNEV, "168 chasa" newspaper

A nectar of love, sealed in the portraits of artists
One leaves Ani Petrova’s exhibition fascinated.
I have the feeling that something good has happened in Sofia these last few days. In Stubel Gallery, the photographer Ani Petrova has exhibited 39 portraits of Bulgarian artists. Some of them have already departed from this world, some are still here, among us.

I learned that the portraits have been created during the last 20 years, in different situations, states, and moods. There are tags with written thoughts under the photographs. Thoughts about time, life, death, the eternal matters that define us. Poetically said – those yearnings that appear when you stumble upon a moon or a cloud. I was truly moved and have taken away with me what I saw.

I am not willing to recite the names of the artists not only because I may miss or belittle someone, but also because their portraits really stand as one big canvas in the space. You could not separate, nor merge them. They simply complement each other, creating a complete state.
It is not necessary. I do not know why and maybe I should not try to find an explanation, but I saw something more important – I felt the particles of time in which we have lived in the last 20 years.
Beyond the wrinkles, beyond the furrows on their faces, in their smiles and their silences emerge so many things we have gone through. Fulfillments and disappointments that we have carried through the years. I am not certain that this was the photographer’s intent, but that is what I felt.

I also felt, and perhaps this is what matters most, that all the portraits have been made with a very special love, soaked in its nectar. Maybe that is why the viewer can spend a long time contemplating them, reconsidering them, building on them. Maybe that love is the reason for the full harmony Ani Petrova has achieved in that exposition, the charm that anyone can dip into and carry away with him.

One more thing. It is not necessary to know all the faces in the portraits, it is definitely not necessary to know their works. As you look at them, they simply whisper something to you, and you can grasp it immediately.
Their faces are telling you to be wiser, freer, and more unique. Not to fall apart in these crazy times, but to travel through it with twice the freedom.

As a side note, I personally know many of the faces on the photographs. Some of them are very close friends of mine, and I know very well what it has – and continues to – cost to them to be artists, especially here.

What do you have to go through in order to stay indefeasible and to not have your wings clipped? To stay faithful to your soul’s remains?
Maybe that is why when I entered the gallery and saw their faces, I felt proud not just to know many of them, but also to know that those artists have been here, are still here, and not everything is lost. It will not be lost.
I think that that echo, that feeling has been leading the photographer on her journey, as she was taking the portraits. But even if that was not the case, having thoughts like that scramble your mind is great.

I found out that Ani has plans to exhibit portraits of jazz musicians, actors, generally people who move through time not only with shoes, because from time to time they fly.
It is very important that this happens. It is important because of something I mentioned earlier: there are still artists, who in spite of everything have not thrown their dreams in the recycling bin.

Looking at the “Artist in focus” I think that the impression on the visitors will be similar. I am not advertising, I am saying this absolutely sincerely: take a look at that exhibition, and I am certain that you will grow older a little bit more beautifully. And that is no small feat.