Academic References by prof. Konstantin Denev and prof. Vladimir Ivanov

ACADEMIC REFERENCE

related to the attainment of academic degree "Associate Professor"

in the field of "Science of Art and Fine Arts" - SCULPTURE

Candidate: Nikolay Dobryanov Ninov

REVIEWER: prof. Konstantin Denev

Nikolay Ninov is one of the most talented people I have met during my pedagogical practice. He was one of those students that turn the teaching experience into a very pleasant and satisfactory process. All the things he was engaged in were performed with enviable easiness, excitement and joy.

As a research work Nikolay Ninov presented twenty-three plastic pieces of art organized in several cycles: Two Aesthetics, New Stumps, Game of Volumes, Small Forms and a number of several separate works in addition. The following creations represent a retrospective view of a 10-year creative period. The exhibited sculptures convey an impression that everything is organized in a consistent development that allows the ideas to appear simultaneously and at the same time makes it obvious that the next image completes and elaborates the previous one. The selection does not outline all the spheres of interest that intrigue the artist. I am also acquainted with his art initiative and projects related to interior organization, exterior management, graphic and furniture design.

In the note section of the research work the main accent of meaning that connects the different cycles is represented in the relation "nature - civilization" in existential,  social and ecological aspect. Civilization and nature are perceived as antagonistic poles. On the on hand, we have the worldly - the natural - the organic, but on the other hand, we consider the artificial - the formal - the fake. Human intervention in the nature's cycle is viewed as an increasingly egoistic attitude that disrespects all natural laws and destroys everything.

The cycle Two Aesthetics was displayed for the first time in Rayko Aleksiev Gallery as a part of a collective exhibition that we organized with Georgi Minchev in 2001. From the very beginning Ninov presented quite an interesting plastic attitude to material handling that he later developed. Two Aesthetics aims to underline the contrast between a naturally formed material (stone in particular) and a civilizationally organized interference.

Under the surface of limestone volumes, taken directly from natural resources in their real shape and form, Nikolay Ninov discovers rationally organized ideal structures that differ from the innate character of the material. This kind of interference can be described as an automatic process that is devoid of any emotional hint and strikes a discordant note in the natural world.

In his next cycle New Stumps 1, 2, 3, 4 Ninov used poplar stumps he had found. Upon this material the artist lays geometrical structures by cutting the matter and then he fits the part together in the initial order. There is a sense of rough manipulation in the core of the material. The plastic action remains externally unexposed but is definitely felt. The binding of separate elements by the so-called "pig tails" provokes an association with the painful scene from a surgery platform.

We witness a similar approach in the next cycle Game of Volumes 1, 2, 3, 4, 5 but this time a totally reversed visual result is achieved. Wood is used in its natural look - the form and surface (bark) are preserved. This time the material is rationally cut out and then geometrically assembled in new configuration. The form is meant to create an impression of cold, formal and indifferent intervention which is not consistent with the essence of the tree.

The series of Small Forms 1, 2, 3, that brought the artist the Young Artist Award during the Biennial Festival of Small Forms in Pleven, is characterized by overwhelming lightness and simplicity that present the plastic aspect in a sensational way. The plane structure of asbestos cement called Knitting is extremely impressive to me because the material characteristics are used in a very ingenious way.

The author's closeness to minimalistic aesthetics is felt in all the examples presented in the research work. This particular kind of aesthetics is conveyed absolutely clear in Cube. A plastic event bordering the lack of happening is aimed as a suggestion. The impression of a closed space is achieved by means of maximal simplicity. Here Ninov applies the contrast between polished and coarse stone surface and the jointing technique that is typical of woodwork. These compositional elements, limited in number, convincingly create a feeling of a stable strenuous closeness.

The sculptures Vanity, Greed and Custom and Culture are contiguous to the conceptual and are represented as installations. Their ironic aspect is brought to the forefront. What strikes the impression is the professionalism that the artist mastered to incorporate various materials - wood, stone, paper, etc. By means of exceptional skillfulness and minimal interference he managed to reach an extremely powerful and striking visual image.

Nikolay Ninov's art biography has been revealing an extremely active and dynamic artistic personality since 1999 - eleven independent exhibitions, participation in numerous symposia, international art events, national and curator selections - August in Art 2002, 2004, 2006; International Festival of Contemporary Art in Varna-Bulgaria 2005; Mtel Awards for Contemporary Bulgarian Art., 2008, etc. Ninov has won two Young Artist Awards - Bulart Gallery Award 2002 in Varna and 2nd National Biennial Festival Award in Pleven. Ninov's diverse biography represents him as one of the original and authentic artists of this artistic generation who has a special place in the field of contemporary Bulgarian art.

Nikolay Ninov's pedagogic activity started immediately after university graduation - he became a teacher in the National High School of Humanities and Arts in Varna. In 2001 he won a competition for a regular assistant in Art and Sculpture organized by the Department of Architecture at Varna Free University "Chernorizets Hrabar". Knowing his impressive skills of an academic artist and his qualities of a tolerant and communicative intelligent person, I can firmly state my confidence in his undoubted success in teaching. An interesting point to consider in the research work is Ninov's view of linking the three-dimensional essence of architecture with sculpture. He defends the position that the more frequent use of sculptural approaches in architecture forming principles will enrich the variety and multiplicity of contemporary architecture. In addition, he speaks up for an education that will teach young architects to respect natural materials as a way of creating more harmonious and human architectural environment. These ideas are inspired by his teaching experience in the Department of Architecture at Varna Free University and once again show him as a successful and perspective professional pedagogue.

Having stated all the facts above, I highly recommend that the members of the Scientific Council approve Nikolay Ninov to achieve the academic rank Associate Professor.

Prof. Konstantin Denev

ACADEMIC REFERENCE

related to the attainment of academic degree "Associate Professor"

in the field of "Science of Art and Fine Arts" - SCULPTURE

Candidate: Nikolay Dobryanov Ninov

REVIEWER: prof. Vladimir Ivanov

An artist with a pronounced sense of the material in sculpture stands before us - he expresses his ideas equally well using stone, wood and other material such as asbestos cement panels, boiler volumes, and so on. One of the artist's greatest strengths is his considerable sense of constructive, compact, smart and artistic composition that handles different resources each time and highlighs different properties of particular matters while every single piece of art has the characteristics of an intimate dialogue with space which is often built on surprisingly plastic suggestions - suggestions that express in an original way the nature of well-known materials such as stone, wood, metal, etc.

We can see that in the series Two Aesthetics where the coexistence of the geometric lines and the natural shape of the stone piece create a remarkable harmony of natural and artificial origins. The same practice of artistic contrast is observed in New stumps which differ from the old ones - in the old stumps there are skillfully incorporated geometric volumes that are part of the tree matter, but they are at the same time "deconstructed" in a remarkable way and enriched with the texture of the so-called "cable ties". The impression that is provoked is of something very familiar that is about to undergo a new metamorphosis in order to become, before our eyes, a thing  that is much more interesting and attractive and requires a totally different level of perception and understanding. A similar creative approach to the material is seen in the series Game of Volumes. Geometrically cut pieces of a wooden chair are reunited in its original form while creating different compositional spaces that breathe together with the power and the richness of the natural element, but at the same time they are delicately edited by the skillful artistic intervention - "a little bit of touch here and there" as the artist describes it.

The installation Custom and Culture has a special place among the exhibited works. In this case the industrial forms, that normally are very expensive in the process of contemporary art creation, form a picturesque sequence coloured in all the shades of the rainbow. The result of the creation of this very interesting plastic form was an amazingly beautiful image that was displayed in the garden of an old building in Varna. During the same exhibition very close to the installation was situated the Vanity of the wooden object which attracted the visitors with its small, identical in form pieces of paper, stuck everywhere. This can be considered a genuinely original metaphor that simultaneously embodies a view of contemporary plastic thinking and a simple method of form achievement.

Nikolay Ninov graduated the Art School of Fine Arts in Tryavna and later in 2000 got a degree in Sculpture from the University of Veliko Turnovo St. Cyril and St. Methodius where he studied in the class of prof. Konstantin Denev and prof. Velichko Minekov. During his career Ninov has organized ten independent exhibitions in Varna, Pleven, Bourgas and Sofia, he has also won two Young Artist Awards in Pleven and Varna and has participated in various national and foreign exhibitions. The artist's talent is to be witnessed from the moment of his graduation and has initiated considerable results. However, what is more important is the nature of his artistic manifestation.

All the titles of the artworks are laconic or even technical - Small Forms, Cube, Black and White Painting, Jointing, Knitting. The materials are different but the way the artworks "mill" the space, as well as the artist's fresh and deep analysis of each possible creative solution of the compositional problem reveal a mature artistic thought that is distanced from unnecessary details and decorative "tricks" which are very typical of contemporary artists. This way of thinking strives to convey the nature of the things and also to stress the very act of sculpturing that discloses the real vibrations of the matter and its meaning in the examples of its perfect embodiment.

 

In this particular approach I see the main contribution of Nikolay Ninov's artwork - the laconic, elegant, multi-dimensional minimalistic view of the plastic form that skilfully and purposefully leads us to the philosophical content of the work and strive for a reflection on the fundamental values ​​governing our existence. The artist states that he seeks "an art that is closely related to the essence of nature and embodies the eternal rhythms of the human and the cosmic in a profound and truthful way - a topic that has always been an ultimate goal for the artist".

Nikolay Ninov is definitely a searching artist. This can be seen in all of his artworks. This is a characteristic that is also applied to his university teaching methods. His communiction with the students is based on the same principles that characterize his work because, as he says, "architecture can be naturally seen as a sculptural image". The accent behind this concept is logically put on "the natural material and its natural force". The art creed of the young artist sufficiently determines the necessity of his presence in the Department of Architecture at Varna Free University. In my opinion, he not only has deserved his place among the teaching team in the department, but he also contributes to the improving of teaching standards in the department.

Taking into consideration everything mentioned above, as well as the current need of highly qualified and experienced lecturers in the field of architecture, I believe that Nikolay Dobryanov Ninov deserves the academic rank Associate Professor.

 

Prof. Vladimir Ivanov