Nouns and adjectives go a long way to describe works of art, but the turbulence within Iva Gueorguieva’s paintings demands verbs — lots of verbs. Shapes billow, pulse and scatter; lines thrust and plummet; colors collide, dissolve, shriek and sigh. The paintings engulf the body. They send the eye skittering.
Motion, change and transmutation abound, but some also see violence in the work.
“I’m fine with it,” Gueorguieva says after some thought. “I think the word is quite complex. There is this swirling big motion that does feel kind of violent and threatening, like fast-moving clouds or really heavy rain. The forces and directions and pushes — everything is always in a continuous state of becoming, and there is a violence to becoming.”
The flux in Gueorguieva’s paintings might seem wholly abstract, conjured by an artist who at 35 enjoys the stability of a steady run of exhibition opportunities (the next, locally, at Angles Gallery’s new Culver City space in April), teaching gigs at UCLA and Claremont Graduate University, as well as a house, husband and young son. But turmoil has had a real presence in her life and has become the defining condition of her work.
Born in Sofia, Bulgaria, Gueorguieva was two years into the traditional curriculum at an academy of applied arts in 1989 when the communist government collapsed and with it her inborn sense of order. “The whole society fell apart,” she says, seated on a cardboard box in her downtown studio, sipping tea on a chilly morning.
“It was just hysteria. For half a year I didn’t go to school. I just hung out with anarchists and student activists from the university, blocking streets. Everything that seemed solid was in a state of total fragmentation and disappearance. Overnight, everything changed in Bulgaria — what you think of as a family, a job, basic things you take for granted.”
Her family headed for Australia but ended up in inner-city Baltimore. Her mother, a doctor, and father, an engineer, found jobs in a candy factory, leaving Gueorguieva, then 16, in charge of her two younger brothers.
“We were like animals inside of a basement,” she recalls. “It was a huge contrast to where I grew up. I had never seen a gun or heard a gunshot. I’d never seen a fire, and every day someone’s getting stabbed, shot, chased. There’s people doing heroin on the streets. We were so naive, we didn’t quite understand what that was.” – Los Angeles Times, Dec 27th, 2009 (read more)