Michael Stoyanov was born on November 21, 1949 in the hill village Balkantzi, located in the vicinity of Bulgaria’s medieval capital—Veliko Tarnovo. As a child raised in the family of hard-working peasants—his father was a carpenter and his mother worked on the farm—Michael’s imagination was deeply impressed by the humble beauty of his environment. In 1972 Stoyanov earned his BFA degree from the University of Veliko Tarnovo, where he was a student of the eminent Bulgarian artist, professor Vasil Stoilov. Michael also cherished the mentorship of Dimitar Kazakov, who remains one of Bulgaria’s most renowned artists worldwide. The young artist developed a photorealist style for his figurative compositions and portraits of people from his village, which he felt was most appropriate for depicting their stark reality. The titles of his paintings from that period speak for themselves: “On the field”, “Idyll”, “Distance”, “My father became pensive”, “Our past”, “Loneliness”. Michael’s sharp technique and compassionate perspective gathered critical acclaim and many of his paintings were published in art magazines and purchased for the permanent collections of art museums in Bulgaria. In 1983 Stoyanov held his first solo exhibit in the most prestigious art venue in Bulgaria, the National Palace of Culture in Sofia, which was followed by dozens of solo and group exhibitions during the 1980s. Stoyanov was among the first artists in Bulgaria who endeavored to create a market economy for their art, to establish direct connection with the public, and to gain international exposure. “I am very happy when I see people’s enthusiasm for my art”, says the artist. “I still remember when a team of reporters from the Japanese national TV purchased several of my paintings during their stay in the historic Bulgarian village Arbanassi. They were gathered around me, as I was painting from nature, and were waiting to buy the painting as soon as I finished it.”
In 1992 Michael and his family immigrated to the United States, where they were granted citizenship because of his artistic talent. Michael and his wife Ekaterina, who is also an artist, have been painting and exhibiting their artwork in their gallery in Carefree, AZ since 1999.
When I paint I enjoy discovering the sensation and significance of every shape and tone I create. As I begin work, I set out with the intention to study the relations between the forms and the colors, and even if I end up painting just a few brushstrokes the whole day, I am happy that I have found their harmony. This interplay of light and shade, which matures anew in each piece, is the solid foundation that allows me to explore several variations on a theme, as well as a diversity of subjects. Conceptually and stylistically, my artistic evolution has undergone several stages corresponding to the major changes in my working environment: from the minimalist color scheme and social commentary of the photorealist style I mastered in the 1970s and early 1980s in my native Bulgaria, to the rich expressionist palette that I adopted in the late 1980s, and especially since moving to the United States in the early 1990s. While the greater freedom of expression and direct contact with customers in my new home have allowed me to expand my artistic vision, my aesthetic attention is always captured by the inherent grace in the lifestyle of ethnic populations throughout the world and by the simple beauty of nature, both of which I have rediscovered in the American Southwest.
One of my favorite objects to paint is pieces of colorful Native American pottery. On the one hand, I am captured by the concreteness of the forms, and at the same time, I perceive them as the elements of an abstract painting. After painting the cracks on the pottery on canvas a number of times, I began to incorporate the material texture of the pots and started painting them on cracked wood panels from cyprus tree. The wood panels require special surface preparation and finish, which I adopt from my training in Byzantine iconography. In adding this extra dimension to the cracked pots that have survived the passing of centuries, I believe to communicate better my experience of them as an anchorage in our hurried modern lifestyle. The innovative blend of techniques, my desire to recreate the multi-layered plasticity of the object I have chosen to paint and to discover and communicate its distinctive presence, have led me on a number of occasions to create pieces that speak to everyone: the fragments of ancient pottery, the interior scene by a window entitled “beautiful day”, the impressionistic panorama of the amphitheater-like houses of Veliko Tarnovo, the lively energy of cowboys crossing a river on horseback, the dramatic hues of the Grand Canyon ravines, etc., all of which have undergone several transformations that were often suggested by my customers. Indeed, the successful communication of my artistic vision brings me just as much gratification as the process of creation, and the interaction with the people who come to my gallery or meet me at art events is a vital part of my inspiration to paint and to keep exploring new paths.
Fine Art & Wine Festival, Carefree, AZ
Fountain Hills Fine Art Affaire, AZ
Scottsdale Fine Art & Chocolate Festival, AZ
Scottsdale Celebration of Fine Art, Scottsdale, AZ
Beverly Hills Art Festival in the Park, Beverly Hills, CA
San Francisco Celebration of Fine Art, San Francisco, CA
The Southwest Arts Festival, Indio, CA
Aspen Fine Art Festival, Aspen, CO
Avon Festival of Fine Arts, Avon, CO
Edwards Fine Art & Sculpture, Edwards, CO
Aquatennial Art Festival, Minneapolis, MN
Excelsior Art Festival, Excelsior, MN
Uptown Art Fair, Minneapolis, MN
30+ juried gallery and museum exhibitions in Bulgaria and other European countries.