Bulgarian artist Petya Evtimova-Ivanova’s paintings brought Bulgarian folklore to Old Dominion University’s Virginia Beach campus.
Inspiration for the exhibit, “All Those Myths and Dreams,” came from Bulgarian colors, myths and legends, according to Ivanova.
“I was thinking about life, love, men and women and religion when I made these paintings about dreams,” she said.
The paintings portray whimsical scenes of a Bulgarian woman with long hair and a white dress. She uses deep reds, blues, yellows, browns and floating objects to create a dreamy atmosphere.
An apple is repeatedly used as a symbol for the Garden of Eden. She redefines the Garden of Eden story as the goodness of nature and women, according to Linda Caulkins, public relations director at the Higher Education Center. She was originally inspired when traveling from Bulgaria to the United States and she thought of Bulgarian colors and landscapes. Her landscape exhibit was shown at the Bulgarian Embassy in Washington D.C., her first show in the United States.
Ivanova was born in Veliko Tarnovo, Bulgaria in 1975. Though her father is also an artist, it is not the reason she pursued painting.
According to Ivanova, Bulgarian students must choose a professional path in high school. She attended Emilian Stavev High School of Fine Arts and began painting seriously.
In 1999, Ivanova graduated from the University of Veliko Tarnovo with a master’s degree in Fine Arts.
Several different artists influence her style of painting but she said, “I hope I have my own style.”
Using simple words to express a big idea is the biggest challenge for Ivanova when she paints. If she is painting a human, each body part says everything about the human, “and it is important to say it simply.”
She moved to Virginia Beach in 2010 when her husband was transferred for work and they will be in Virginia for one more year.
Ivan Trent, a student at Old Dominion University’s main campus, said he is happy that ODU is bringing art to the satellite campus. According to Trent, it is harder for people to go back to the fine arts that are innately in people and “by seeing [her] art I am kindly reminded of that.”
Ivanova recommends that art students study and paint every day. To create their own style, it is important to practice and have conversations about art with professors.
Her work has been shown in Bulgaria, Serbia, Washington D.C., Pennsylvania, New Jersey and Virginia.
The exhibit will be in displayed until Dec. 20, in the Virginia Beach Higher Education Center Lobby. The exhibit is free, but the paintings are for sale, ranging in price from $80 to $1,100.
By: Megan Stamper