|Kolio Karamfilov was born on
December 7, 1963 in the town of Plovdiv, Bulgaria. In 1982 he graduated
the College of Stage Art in his native town. He specialised in scenography.
Since 1983 he has participated in numerous exhibitions in Bulgaria
and abroad. Together with Dimitar Mitovski they established the artistic
tandem „Modern Classics“; and in the period 1989-92 they exhibit together.
Kolio Karamfilov is a founder and member of the avant-garde „Edge“group.
Since 1995 he is a founder and member of the „Disco ´95“group.
Karamfilov works in graphics, oil painting, sculpture,
illustration and scenography.
He has 25 individual exhibitions and more than 31 collective exhibitions
in Bulgaria (Sofia, Plovdiv, Sosopol, Sliven) and abroad: Moscow -
Russia, Tokyo - Japan, Dordreht - Holland and Hohenaschau - Germany.
He lives and works in Sofia.
1987 - Bronze medal and Diploma, International Biennial of Graphic
1989 - First Prize, VIIIth National Youth Exhibition, Sofia;
1989 - „Southern Spring“Prize, Haskovo;
1995 - Grand Prix, First International Triennial of Graphic Arts,
Kolio Karamfilov appeared spontaneously in contemporary Bulgarian
art with individual and strong voice; it immediately became apperant
that he was an artist with powerful creative talent, emotional experience
and delicate sensitivity. It is exactly these personal qualities which
permeate and render depth to his imagery and distinguish him from
other contiguous young artists. Quite opposite from most of his fellow
artists, Karamfilov studied in his own “universities”, graduating
officially only the College of Stage Art in his native city of Plovdiv.
What followed was personal invention and individual achievement, both
in the secrets of the trade and in the magic of art. From the very
beginning Kolio Karamfilov expresses himself in all aspects of the
free form. From graphics quite naturally he passes on to sculpture
and oil and thence to “installations” and “happenings”.
Kolio Karamfilov is not a contemplator despite his sacredly poetic
art. Neither is he a rational thinker, despite the intellectual intensity
of his works. His images are born in a burning clash with life.His
plastic symbols are an extract from a spiritual tempest.
An endless chain of images passes through his art. This is the visual
dictionary which more than anything else betrays his nature. A hand,
a head, a fish, a heart, a tree, an arrow, a horse…These sign signals
from Kolio Karamfilov’s universe remain in each following cycle and
the same time receive new meanings and artistic interpretations.
In the beginning it was the hand. The hand – the artist’s tool. And
the hand – the gesture. And all at once – disarming and intimate the
sign flows into the hand/head. A caress which the artist has enriched
with so much hidden meaning (love, tenderness, forgiveness, healing,
farewell) that naturally we begin to view the image as holy. And thence
we reach the essence of Kolio Karamfilov’s symbolism.The laconic strike
of the visual symbol quite naturally bears an obligatory romantic
halo. A strange combination that becomes even more mysterious as time
flows. As the image crystallizes in its simplicity, the spiritual
tunes of the artist resound stronger.
Another key symbol – the human being, symbolized by a head, impaled
on an arrow. No doubt, an image burdened by prehistoric symbolism.
By the way, it is impossible to read Kolio Karamfilov’s visions without
having the keys unlocking various ancient cultures and artistic trends.Is
it the rational understanding or is it the genetic memory that naturally
guide his hand? We are talking not only about typical compositions
of ancient symbols, which paraphrased create his personal style of
imagery; rather we are talking about ideoplastic devices characteristic
of ancient times and presen in his art: the combination of “internal”
and “external” in a spacious plan, the co-exsistence of sign and image
or the mark of native. Thus Egypt, the icon and ancient history stay
alive in these contemporary artistic messages. However, they are not
part of the postmodern eclectics. A strong individual sensitivity,
boiling at high creative degrees has figuratively melted them together.
The Head is a fundamental sign.Usually the eye-lids are closed to
keep the gaze from wandering and leave the soul submerged in its secret
visions, listening to some continuously flowing music.The mouth: the
artist prefers to draw it open, uttering uheard sounds, which like
fluttering birds fill out the canvas. Kolio Karamfilov answers the
long-standing philosophical question where thought’s shelter is as
a man born in the late 20th century – this is the Head. The Head is
the symbol of man (as in many ancient cultures by the way).It is a
symbol of the living an the dead.A symbol of the sinner an the righteous.That
is why his heads are different – dark or luminous, rough totems or
delicate shapes.In various compositions we are confronted by heads
organised round chests.What are they telling us?In his graphic works
and his sculptures they hold a key place.Here we discover an ancient
root of sexual imagery, that symbol is surrounded by innumerable subjective
meanings and layers of generalizations; a space madebcivilized and
humane, surrounded by chaos, a space sending out from its womb various
trajectories.Suddenly the hand emerges again.It harks back to the
toiling hand which the believers fashioned from ordinary metal with
a beckoning cry to the Almighty, coming out from the depths of the
soul.Kolio Karamfilov never tires of placing well-known symbols and
signs in new relations and rhythmical figures in order to enrich their
message.Two hands may close a circle.However, human fate is far from
perfection.Hence the effort of joining the hands in a perfect form
is juxtaposed to the endless winding of the spiral-labyrinth with
all ensuing context and imagery.
Kolio Karamfilov works with diverse materials.What he creates out
of wood or metal is not really a sculpture.It is a need of materializing
notions.Therefore the artist, similar to our ancient predecessors,
is pushed by the same urge: to create an image that is a variation
of a foot imprint.As time flows, the image metaphysics gains strength.
Kolio Karamfilov’s symbolism is not only synthetic density.In the
interplay of touches and reflections we discover – enraptured – an
intellectual play and enchanting fantasy.This visual interplay was
let free years ago by the surrealists; released from earth’s gravity
and legalized as a new artistic language it has managed to conquer
large territories.Karamfilov’s improvisational gift effortlessly entwines
itself in this train of though.
In general the symbolism of Kolio Karamfilov may be defined as synthetic.Its
texture, so difficult to sever because of many plastered and compressed
cross-sections of imagery, as far from being obvious and clear.The
artist tries to encode in this imagery life’s complexity, the mystery
to which he always aspires.He does not want to be, neither is he a
slave to daily routine.His mind and senses are tortured by the heavy
load of our troubled age.Through pain and relative knowledge, through
aggression of the visual chaos surrounding us, through horror and
misery, with key symbols expressing human fate and truth, the artist
seeks for a spiritual comfort.
Such a key symbol may be a tear, rolling down under a heavy eye-lid
filling up the entire space. Human suffering is indeed enormous. Things
are great or trifle, yet this is not overtly apparent; they must be
judged by their real value.And real value is what an artist can recognize
Assistent Proffesor Rhuzha Marinska
Director of the National Art Gallery