Mira Rahneva was born in 1981 in Sofia. He graduated from the Sofia Academy of Fine Arts "Acad. Iliya Petrov ", specialty" Painting "and master's degree at Sofia University" St. Kliment Ohridski "- specialty" Pedagogy and semiotics of fine arts ".


There are numerous solo exhibitions in Bulgaria and abroad. In recent years he has been a part of many collective exhibitions and plein airs in Sofia and the country: Art Fairy Gallery, Artur Gallery, Art Museum, Tandra, Fanita, Modulor, Red House, Astri ", UBB, UGSG, SU" Kl. Ohridski, Marbles Gallery, and Chappel House - St. Louis, North America.


Most of her paintings and illustrations have a strong poster effect. Built decorative, with symbolic images and symbolic elements, serpentine vibrant lines, strong color contrasts, rhythmic composition and shapes that inspire the movement of the whole. Many of the paintings are related to music, in particular jazz, as well as to Bulgarian national folklore and Eastern cultures, and the main image in them is often The woman in all her incarnations.



Connection / acrylic paint on canvas / 60 x 70cm

Mira Rakhneva is the author of dozens of illustrations and some of the covers of Prof. Randall Baker's books "Strange Places. Interesting people "," Transient changes "," Cold War in a hot place "„ He is also the author of the illustrations for the poetry collection "I Missed My Thoughts" (2018) by Petya Peicheva. Her paintings are in private collections in Bulgaria, Norway, the Netherlands, the United Kingdom, Canada, Poland, Zimbabwe, South Africa, Japan.


The personal writing and your own style in your works is very consistent and tightly built. Tell us about directions along the path to search and find! Can you also list the names of artists that inspire you, learn from, or continue to learn from?


I painted a lot back in my childhood, though chaotic and unconscious. I was six when my parents enrolled me in drawing classes at the community center and even then I got excited. We were painting in a room with older children who were preparing to apply to various art schools. Along with them, we, the little ones, were learning special techniques in drawing, strange, new terms. I remember how much I enjoyed "bread gum", making different pieces of it, like plasticine.


In fifth grade, I won a competition with a portrait of Rada Gospozhina from "Under the Yoke" - I had drawn it with colored pencils. This was a key moment, because my drawing teacher then gave me the idea to apply to art school after seventh grade, as I did. I graduated from the Art High School in Sofia and the "wheel turned". Although I went through academic training with sketches and nude models, I always ran away from this realism and rules. I build the images in my paintings decoratively, more illustratively and stylized, creating depth and movement mainly with spots and lines, more flat. The volume in most cases is obtained not from a smooth overflow of tones, but from pieces collected in a mosaic of different tones. I have a strong influence on the expressive language of "Secession" (Sezession - secession, separation, differentiation). I like to tell stories through drawings, to insert complex symbolism and allegorical images that have multi-layered meanings, changing according to the attitude of the observer.


The process for me is happening in waves. Sometimes weeks go by without holding the brush, and other times I paint almost obsessively for days and I don't see anyone. What I am now as an artist is mostly due to the awakening of my consciousness over time, and not so much to systematic, solid painting. Some time ago I was passionate about posters and experimenting in this field, and for several years I have been the author of the illustrations, as well as the appearance of some of the covers in the books of Prof. Randall Baker. These stops along the way have also influenced the way I create paintings. Everything is connected.


Many artists are interesting to me and reflect on me as I discover new and new ones, often radically different in style, but sometimes something very small at first glance from the other person's world can open portals for you and transform you. Such have been for me Ivan Gazdov, Ivan Milev, Mikhail Vrubel, Egon Schiele, Alfons Mucha, Gustav Klimt, Aubrey Beardsley and others.

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Undoubtedly one of the very interesting motifs in your paintings is the presence of specific symbolism. Tell us about this second layer, beyond the directly visible?


Symbols have always been interesting to me. I drew all sorts of strange signs as a child, which only I understood, and after I started learning to paint at school, I almost forgot about them, until about ten years ago, when these allegorical signs returned to my paintings, already consciously. In fact, we are all more connected than we think. Many of these symbols, which are often recognized as typically Bulgarian, Indian, Mexican, African, etc., are common to many parts of the world, regardless of religion, are almost identical in depiction, and mean the same thing in local culture. Such an example is the "Rope", symbolizing eternal life, infinity and bringing happiness and prosperity to its owner.


To me the interest in folklore and the use of such motives in some of my paintings came a little unexpectedly. I had to come up with a topic for my diploma work at Sofia University, where I studied the Semiotics of Fine Arts. It needed to include text related to the subject under study ("Semiotics" is a scientific discipline that studies signs both individually and grouped in sign systems), as well as an exhibition of paintings drawn on the subject. 

For a long time, I was in a creative hole until one day, casually examining my grandmother's chase, with all the patiently embroidered seams and fabrics of loom, as if someone gave me the answer. After a long search for information on the subject, because it was scarce at the time, I learned that actually the seams in our media and our traditional fabrics are not accidental. They are not just a decoration on the garments - they have a protective function and carry a code with well-defined symbols that give information about the person for whom they are intended, his social status, the area he is from. along the edges of the openings of the garment (sleeves, trousers, neckline), because from there "evil could enter." Many of these symbolisms were also transmitted to household items, carpets, ceramics, house decoration, etc., and were considered to have been protected from bad energies.


This gave me a whole new world of signs and interpretations that reflected on the paintings - I often draw ornaments as symbols that keep, carry positive energy. Sometimes I write words with dots and dashes in the Morse code, hide them in pictures, and let their future owners find them themselves. 

A group of paintings gravitate around folklore - the everyday. In your opinion, should we, in tradition and in originality, seek what sets us apart from the rest of the arts? Should we strive for its updating and so-called "new readings"? 


I think that maintaining the traditions is important and I enjoy a lot of what I've noticed lately - many young people play folk dances, learn to embroider sewing machines, and are interested in our folklore as a whole.


I do not know whether we should strive for "new readings", but rather a matter of personal feeling. In my opinion, each person is a creator and whether he or she will be an innovator, following only his or her own inner voice or adhering to strictly preserved traditions and principles, each person feels what is most suitable for him / her. Beauty can be shown in any way and by any means.

"Late Summer" / acrylic paint on canvas 50x90cm

Talk about music too! Jazz and jazz are important elements in the composition of your paintings. What is distinctive about this style of music is the lack of fixed rules, which inevitably leads to release from the surrounding and the well-known. On the other hand, the color scheme leads to the fabulous - the fantastic. Do your paintings seek to discover other unreal worlds in which space is liberated from the attractive - adjacent coordinates?


I notice that in most cases I appear as a conduit for something that wants to come out into the light - the invisible, which wants to be seen. The plots and images in most of my paintings are on their own, depending on the effects of the moment, I don't think about them long before I start painting. The musical theme, for example, which is the main topic for me, started by my friend musician Tsvetelin Sirakov, who introduced me to the essence of jazz music. He told me stories about certain musicians. Teach me to hear layers that I have never paid attention to before and I want to draw what I hear that I see in my head. In these paintings, the rhythm of the shapes, colors and lines correspond to what I felt as I listened. Very often, the arts blend into one another and something unexpected happens for the participants themselves. And that's the magic - to relax on the wave, not to control everything completely, to be like a kid having fun and improvising without striving for a definite end result.

Part of the series Allegories, 55x42cm.

Traveling / 75x55cm. / mixed technique

Part of the series Allegories, 55x42cm.

You have lots of interesting photos, I can't help but ask about them. Tell us about the directions that inspire you in this art?


Photography enchanted me as a child, I even made a "dark room" where I showed the photos. It seemed so magical to watch images emerge from nowhere, somehow ritually and mystically. I like to experiment with the plots and the point of view, to provoke, to sometimes mix drawing and photography in one. I like to watch the people in their daily lives doing the things in life, the slow life, so rich to explore the details with a camera. Some of my favorite series I've shot in recent years are of my mother, who rolls up in the kitchen or kneads bread, putsty the village house, mows the garden… Like those with my friend Diana, in her grandfather's smithy, smeared with soot and learning to forge iron. People inspire me the most.


Photography is often identified with the phrase "Carpe Diem ...". Tell me about capturing the moment in your daily life?


It is precisely the transience of everything, the change, the disappearing moment, that is one of the main reasons for me to shoot, to get a "momentary piece", to store it for later, so as not to forget. The most beautiful photos for me are those without a plan, without voice and posing, to capture the pure emotion of someone, to observe inside what a person goes through, to be able to be there, but not to stumble. I don't remember who said the best camera was the one at your fingertips.


One of my favorite photographers, a master of this type of life shooting, is Josef Kudelka. I am grateful that I was able to see his photos while visiting Sofia. For weeks, I couldn't stop thinking about them, which is the essence of art, in my opinion - not to leave you indifferent, to make you think, to change you, to wake you up!

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