Georgi Mashev is one of the Bulgarian artists who, although little known to the general public, leave a deep hole in the history of our native art. Pupil of Ivan Murkvichka, Stefan Ivanov, Ivan Angelov, Edmond Richard. Leaving the Art Academy due to a conflict with Petko Klisurov, born of the conservative teaching method, G. Mashev received an art education in St. Petersburg and Brussels.


From there he returned to Bulgaria again, but already as an artist who would occupy an important place in the intellectual and cultural environments of the first half of the twentieth century. Formed in the Russian cultural contexts and Western European modern aesthetic trends, the bearer of a new sensitivity to the individual, of an individualistic and introverted worldview, which overtook the then Bulgarian socio-psychological circles, the artist failed to fully fit into any ideological-aesthetic circle. His friendship with writers like Dimcho Debelyanov, Nikolai Liliev, Teodor Trayanov, Nikolay Raynov shapes and complements the unique ideological and artistic world of the artist. Artists even define the symbolism in his paintings as entirely literary and reflected in a number of paintings.

Dimcho Dibelyanov and Georgi Mashev

He remains true to the ideas of his time, namely, in the period between the wars, he turns to his native art, through his paintings with folklore, mythological, biblical and pastoral images, forming the main body of his diverse creativity. He does not become a member of Native Art, but his painting is close to the aesthetic platform of the movement. Last but not least are the numerous drawings and cartoons printed in a number of newspapers such as the Balkan Tribune, Bulgarians, Laughs, etc., aimed at exposing the imperfections of capitalist modern society. This broad aspect, ideologically and aesthetically, once again testifies to the great talent of the artist, which transforms him into a multifaceted, deep and different figure in our native cultural history. His creativity goes beyond the borders of Bulgaria. His paintings have been exhibited in Constantinople, Berlin and Paris.


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In addition to the unique plastic techniques characteristic of every great artist, Georgi Mashev's work is distinguished by specific psychologization of the image. It is she who represents the world and man beyond the limits of only the real and the foreseeable. The artist's artistic world is dichotomously constructed, seeking and combating the two opposing forces in man, namely good and evil. Mashev invades the subconscious labyrinths of being to bring out with the toolkit of expressive plastic language, with specific poses and angles, with gloomy local background spots or light-shadow modeling, that dark side in the soul of both the individual and the collective community.


The artist's paintings have many layers in which the individual conceptual motif unlocks the archipelagic zones of the human psyche. It is therefore often referred to by researchers as the "originator of diabolic painting". But in the works of the artist, beyond visible fantasy, grotesqueness and demonicity, another layer is depicted, which, in Mashev's whole world, becomes a meaningfully counterpoint to the visible and the real surrounding us.


The artistic world of the artist is monolithically constructed and organized, namely through the characteristic psychologism, which is encoded in the diverse architecture of the works. Even the titles correspond to the paintings not only with their nominal function, but as complementary ideological and semantic aspects. They not only name the canvas, but at the same time trace a new interpretive ford. An illustrative example is the painting "One Life", which compared to another of his works - "Portrait of Petko Mashev", will outline the innovative line in most of the works of the artist.

Adam and Eve - 1927 / hud. Georgi Mashev

image: National Art Gallery

Krali-Marco and the child Golemshe -1932g / hood. Georgi Mashev

image: National Art Gallery

Ana Masheva - portrait / art. Georgi Mashev

image: National Art Gallery

One life

The first painting is also a portrait of Petko Mashev, the artist's father. The title ("One Life") puts the idea of ​​a past life in the prism of the image. It places the person within the real world, but the specifics of the pose and the foreshortened view unlock a peculiar emotional palette that resonates between the image and the viewer so as to lead him to existential existential questions. The image of the father is close-up and the focus is on the face and hands, which enhances the emotional tone of the image. The eyes are closed, and this changes the subjective spatial boundaries of the model. His world closes in his psychological inner trajectories, where moral categories in their primal form reside.


The experience is already being observed by another, external to the outside world, the viewing angle and the understanding of the real world is changing. Indicative in this regard is the location of the arms, which are locked, almost dead crosses, reflecting both the alienation from the outside and the end. The shape of the head is slightly bent, also marking similar states of fatigue, melancholy, resignation, despair, but also humility, peace and quiet.


All this put into the overall compositional frame, together with the visual perspective, the close-up plan, eliminating all forms of object and household character, light and color selection, enhances the ascetic radiation in the canvas, and the model even, figuratively speaking, acquires an iconic image. An invisible introverted organized parallel world is created in the picture, anonymously opposed to the idea of ​​a past life, a lived history, an act of knowing and understanding the world as a whole.


In contrast to this work is the canvas "Portrait of Petko Mashev". The difference is evident in the title, which is only charged with its denotative meaning. One can immediately notice the position of the model relative to the background, which, although built in an almost similar color range, occupies much more space in the picture. Separate elements reflecting everyday life and the world outside are highlighted. The man here lies within the broad confines of the surrounding social environment. He is a reader, interested in the external rhythm of life, experiencing what is happening around him. The gaze is focused, sharp, the hands scatter the spelled pages, while in the previous picture the eyes were closed and the arms almost dead cross, covering their lips.

Portrait of Petko Mashev

The person depicted is the same - the model here is again the artist's father. However, in the second picture, the perspective of the image clearly marks the socially engaged person standing in the way of the events. The picture itself more plastically chronicles man and the world than to interpret it individually. The artist mainly depicts what he sees, he becomes a resonator of the visible world, whose strong presence completely muffles the psychologism characteristic of his work.


In addition to the specific and interesting visual technique, Mashev's paintings contain a deep ideological and symbolic multiplicity, which reveals both man in the world and the world in man. Georgi Mashev's diverse work leaves a deep and interesting track in the development of our native art and deserves to be observed and explored.

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