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 their relationships, and even if I end up painting just a few brushstrokes the whole day, I am happy if I find their proper place. This interplay of form and shade, which matures anew in each piece, is the solid basis which allows me to explore several variations on a theme, as well as a diversity of themes.
Conceptually and stylistically, my artistic evolution has undergone a variety of approaches, corresponding to the major changes in my working environment: from the minimalistic color scheme and social commentary of the photorealist style I mastered in the 1970s and early 1980s in my native Bulgaria, to the rich expressionistic palette and thematic expansion from portraiture to landscape and still life 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 the stimulating contact with customers in my new home have allowed me to develop my vision, I continue to benefit from my rigorous academic training and technical skills acquired in Europe. My aesthetic attention, however, has always been captured by the inherent grace in the lifestyle of ethnic populations throughout the world and by the simple beauty of nature, 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 borrow 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 my home town, the lively energy of a couple of cowboys crossing a river on horseback, etc., the dramatic hues of purples, browns, and reds of the Grand Canyon ravines, have undergone several transformations which 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.
— Michael Stoyanov