Skip to content

Pavel Koychev: Every Era Brings Its Talented Artists

“There is no shortage of talented people, they always spring up. Every era brings its talented artists,” sculptor Pavel Koychev told BTA. The author of the Water Grazing art installation, which was put up in Sofia’s South Park in September, said he was optimistic about Bulgarian culture. He believes, however, that more money should be allocated to it. “I wish people of means realized that giving should exceed taking. It seems to me that now it is the other way around – taking without giving,” he said.
Q: What are your emotions at the end of 2022?
A: My emotions are only positive because I managed to stage a rather big exhibition in Plovdiv’s city art gallery in October. There was also Water Grazing in Sofia’s South Park. So it was a good year for me. Healthwise, it started with COVID but this was over in January. The people close to me are alive and well, so it’s a good year.
As to public life, nothing surprising and new happened. Things in Bulgaria are going on as usual. If everyone does his job as well as he can, things will be different in Bulgaria. And we should not rely on politics alone. This war in Ukraine is also worrying – it is outrageous in my opinion.
Q: Were you faced with surprises and challenges and which were the biggest of them?
A: No. I planned my exhibition early, so no surprises there. Everything went well as planned. I had no unpleasant surprises. There were many pleasant ones and they mostly had to do with my exhibition and the fact that the Water Grazing project materialized in the South Park. My elder granddaughter graduated successfully from medical school in Madrid and started work here. My other granddaughter went to university.
Q: Are you optimistic about Bulgarian culture?
A: I’m optimistic in the sense that it will live on in spite of everything. There is no shortage of talented people, they always spring up. Every era brings its talented artists. I think art is eternal, and I’ll say it again: things will be all right in spite of everything.
Q: Do you believe in the power of the nation’s intellectual elite?
A: I have to believe. It has always been the same. Throughout history, there have been great paragons, and there has also been mediocrity. I wish there was a little more money for culture because the artist does not generate money. If an artist is to do something, someone has to give him money. I wish that people of means realized that giving should exceed taking. It seems to me that now it is the other way around – taking without giving.
It’s too bad there is no art criticism. There is also no forum. There is a wonderful one-hour programme on national television, but it airs at an odd time. And it is just one hour. I wish there was more professional and operational criticism because those who create and those who talk about what has been created are interconnected. And they both need to be of a high standard. The artist and the person who talks about art should be equally good. When those who speak, the critics, are of a high quality, things are better. The artist benefits from that and the audience gets to know the artistic events. Now there simply is no criticism. Something is done and it fades away. There is some sporadic coverage in the press, in the media. I think this is not enough. Events should interweave to make sense. Things are changing terribly fast. Something crops up today and it is old tomorrow.
This fever for new things – which are usually pseudo new – does not result in value. It makes your efforts meaningless. If you do something now and it is meaningless in the afternoon, you are subconsciously demotivated.
Art has no meaning other than its own. When something gets to be applied, one must suspect that it is not art but something else, be it decorative, manipulative, ideological… In that case, one must suspect that there is something wrong.
Q: What are your expectations for the coming year?
A: It will be the same as this one. I hope so because I don’t believe in the so-called “development”. There is fulfilment, not development. People cannot develop what they do not have and what has not been endowed to them. You can only fulfil what you have been endowed with. Your own efforts and sacrifice can yield a result which matters to other people.
Q: What will you wish the Bulgarians for 2023?
A: First of all, no epidemics. May we be healthy, with no bad epidemics like the one of the last couple of years. Good luck and may everyone do what they are supposed to do.
Pavel Koychev was born in Sofia in 1939. In 1966, he graduated in Sculpture from Sofia’s National Academy of Arts. He staged his first solo exhibition in 1982. He represented Bulgaria twice at the Venice Biennale – in 2002 and in 2012. Koychev’s works are owned by the National Art Gallery in Sofia, the Sofia City Art Gallery, other Bulgarian galleries, and private collections in Belgium, Austria, Denmark and the United States, among others.