A review by Prof. Dr. V. V. Vanslov, Director of the Research Institute of Theory and History of Fine Art at The Russian Academy of Arts, Moscow.
Ballet Magazine, issue 7, 2008
A remarkable new tradition was started at the biannual International Ballet Competition in Varna, Bulgaria. During the competition there was an exhibition dedicated to ballet, featuring Bulgarian artists.
There were 3 participants in 2008: the sculptor Ivan Minekov and the painters Paola Minekov and Svetlin Nenov. All of them were unquestionably talented and displayed art of extremely high level and artistic quality.
Two of the works by the sculptor Ivan Minekov, working in a style close to that of impressionism, were dedicated to ballet. One of them, a ballerina en pointe, stood out with the emphatically lengthened lines of her fine limbs. This created the feeling of aspiration upwards, airiness and lightness so typical for classical dance. This bronze statuette was granted as a prize in the competition. The other sculpture, that of a pair, depicted the flying jump of a ballerina and her partner, reminiscent of soaring birds.
Most of the works dedicated to ballet were paintings. The majority of both Paola Minekov and Svetlin Nenov’s works depicted dancers in ballet tutus in various poses. These were not portraits of specific dancers, but ballerinas in a typical stance, as if captured behind the curtains or on stage. These paintings resembled those of Degas, even though the stylistics of the exhibiting artists were completely different.
Along with the static images, the painters exhibited art works that appeared to capture dance itself. Among those, the works of Paola Minekov drew special attention. In her canvases a twirl of figures drew dancing compositions with bold lines and distinct rhythms. The images of dancers emerged from the chaos of the lightly blurred colourful strokes. This created a tangible sense of the dynamics of the dance. Each of her paintings displayed a different colour combination, with most works featuring the tonality of either yellow, light blue or pink. It appeared as if the dance was captured under a glowing spotlight.
Creating the illusion of movement, filled with rhythm and various emotional states, is a difficult task to achieve in a painting. Paola Minekov did just this, in a way which is both convincing and original. It is difficult to find an analogue to her work among other artists.
A ballet competition is always a celebration of the arts. When accompanied by art exhibitions it opens yet another perspective for the spectator, making him or her experience the beauty and uniqueness of the dance even more deeply. These types of exhibits not only offer a venue for the artist, but they also elevate the art of ballet by attracting more and more admirers. It would be great if other countries adopted the tradition established by the Varna Competition.