Martin Dzhachkov - Bulgarian Painter, Photographer and Book Publicist
In a digital world where art is becoming more and more disposable, Martin Dzhachkov embodies a more traditional approach.
Coming from a small town and running away to Paris to become an artist, Martin has embarked on the dream venture for any budding young creative. He even has the mustache!
Martin has now made that dream a reality, by becoming a successful painter, photographer and book publicist.
Martin talks to #TheNewEastisQueer about Bulgaria, existentialism, his journey so far — and feet!
[EAST] Did you always want to be an artist, growing up? [Martin] Yes. Art feels like more than a desire, it is part of the way a child looks at the world. In the world I grew up in, art was not an option for a profession, but it was a path that I felt closely connected to my soul. I was initially attracted to music and fashion, and later to theater and fine art.
[EAST] You moved to Paris, where you still live today. How did this decision happen? [Martin] The decision to go to Paris was entirely mine, different from that of my parents and my entourage. I first went to Montpellier, southern France, where I was accepted into a plastic arts class. This was my leap of freedom from a small Bulgarian town to an unknown new life in France. It was extremely brave, difficult, and I had to lock in all my emotions, fears, and hesitations to follow the path I thought was right. From today's point of view, I think I have experienced much of the difficulties of integrating and surviving in a new society - in parallel with my development as a person and an artist. I would not recommend any 17-18 year old boy to dive so deep unless he is ready to do anything to make his ambitions and dreams come true.
[EAST] How much did Bulgaria, as a country, and a culture, influence your work? [Martin] Bulgaria as a country is still in an extremely difficult situation, where society is reforming and learning civic responsibility and activism, and the political class is slowly turning from a tumor that oppresses the nation into an instrument that will serve the Bulgarians.
But the Bulgarian culture and my Bulgarian consciousness are precisely the leading qualities in my character and soul. An artist without character cannot build an authentic artistic world, and I believe that I have my own stamp and my own expression, which are recognisable in fine art. I am delving more and more into the history of Bulgarian art and I have the ambition that one day my work will take its place in Bulgarian fine art.
[EAST] When you start creating your collages, or paintings, what do you tend to think about first? [Martin] I am a portraitist. I think of my paintings as an acquaintance or a meeting with a new person. First, I began to create them for myself, to create my friends, to revive my idols in my own way, to give birth to the mirages of my dreams, and my dreams of beautiful feelings. Over time, my way of working and the portraits themselves evolved.
I came up with my own rules to work on both technically and thematically. The names of my paintings are one of the most important aspects of my work and I pay as much attention to the name as to the painting itself, because literature for me is a passion and a magical world from which I draw inspiration and where I recharge. My paintings are prophetic and I am constantly convinced of that. Once I create a portrait, I meet the person live at some point in my life, and if I'm lucky, I recognise him.
[EAST] What was your proudest accomplishment? [Martin] I think this is ahead of me
[EAST] What does art mean to you?
[Martin] I am an instinctive painter.
For me instinct is unconscious perfection, and my paintings live on conscious imperfection. My painting is a skin. We can no longer count the wounds, scars and slashes. They secretly constitute its beauty. They form the unconscious. Painting is delicious, but it is a permanent pain. When I paint I wage a war. The pleasure is before in the excitement of the idea and especially after when I'm sure the painting is finished.
Art never heals for anything. It just maintains its injuries. For me, easy feelings don't matter. I paint because I am alone!
[EAST] Pointure 46 was a project focussing on the beauty and eroticism of mens feet. How did you think of this? How was it created?
[Martin] As I said, I love books, and at this point I love book publishing. I am the happiest person in the world when I find a book from the past that is exotic, strange, rejected or funnily intimate. This is what my project Size 46 can be called, which I have not finished yet, because I have the material to publish an extremely large edition dedicated to the beauty of large male feet.
As a portraitist I pay attention to everything in the human body and its very essence I think speaks volumes about men. I consider both the hands, the eyes and the ears and legs to be an interesting aesthetic plot. I like the symmetry, the size, the shape and most of all, the beauty. As a photographer, my strong point is the plot and the point of view, more than the technicality. I combine this marginal and anatomical plot with the classicism of black and white photography and poetry as a setting.
[EAST] What are your feelings/relationships with social media. Do they help or hinder your art?
[Martin] We live in a reality in which it is no longer possible to work without social networks. So it is in art. I see in them an opportunity to feed my eye, to find artists who are not imposed by the distorted art industry and galleries, because today more than ever the presence and success of an artist on the world art scene is only a matter of money and sometimes contacts. My social networks are not developed enough, because I work very directly with art collectors in the studio and I would like to be a productive artist. Presenting creativity on social media requires a lot of time and creativity and is definitely important.
[EAST] Is there a relationship between art and sexuality? [Martin] Sexuality is unconsciously present in every aspect of human existence. She is a leader in art, as the images of a painting come from the soul and intimate feelings of the artist. On the other hand, it is a matter of choice and taste how much sexuality is present in someone's work and how to present it. But at one point or another you can see the connection with the sexuality of each artist, as in Gauguin, in the white book of Jean Cocteau, in the paintings of Dali or in the secret sketches of Yves Saint Laurent.
[EAST] Mortality. What does it mean to you? Does it influence your work? [Martin] Death is a theatrical curtain that falls and through which we will all pass. Because of my attraction to the occult and my connection to the other world, I have mixed and volatile feelings about death. There is fear, but there is also hope that it is not the end. Death is also the question that guides existence sometimes. What we live for and why we do something. I think that everyone needs to leave a trace of this world, as well as to be inspired and continue the traces left by someone for us. I don't talk about death easily, because it's a plot that makes me vulnerable both as a person and as an artist.
[EAST] What is next for you and your work?
[Martin] I want to do more exhibitions in Europe, because so far I have not paid attention to this part, and I see that people are happy to see my paintings live.
In addition to my career as an artist, I have plans to develop as a photographer and actor in theater and cinema.
At the same time, I am about to publish my first book of poetry, as well as I am looking to publish other interesting authors in my publishing house, because I want to contribute to book publishing in Bulgaria and Europe. On this occasion, I would like to invite every artist who has an interesting and different artistic world to feel free to contact me and collaborate.
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