Horizon, 2002, marble, 255 x 245 x 46 cm
Ivan Slavov (°1952) studied sculpture with prof. Dimitar Daskalov (°1941) at the National Academy of Fine Arts, where he graduated in 1978. He was part of a generation of Bulgarian artists who were able to further expand the boundaries of figurative and realist art, following in the footsteps of the previous generation of artists like Krum Damianov (°1937).
Indeed, already as a young student, Slavov had the chance to work in Damianov's studio and soon joined him on the creation of several important monument commissions. The 1980s in Bulgaria were a period particularly rich in possibilities for the artists, as the country was commemorating 1300 years since its founding with ambitious public projects. For the generation of Ivan Slavov this made the declining public role of art during the next decade of transition even more dramatic.
Horizon however does not bear the traces of those ups and downs. It is a mature work of an artist confident in his command of material and space, forms and structures. The work creates a feeling of harmony out of a very precarious constructive situation, a suggestion of space out of flat surfaces. Slavov's experience in monumental sculpture could be felt here in the ease with which he creates a work that is both imposing and peaceful.
The premise of the work is to use the possibilities of the material, with great simplicity but to a maximum effect. A block of marble, with one polished and one raw side, is separated in two. The two parts are then connected again, one showing its polished, the other - its untreated surface. In the middle, a light frieze with a wave motive creates a cut out effect and lightens the whole structure. The top part almost floats over the lower block and indeed both blocks touch the frieze in only few points, balancing almost magically on top of each other.
The first version of Horizon was made in granite for a sculpture symposium in Caldas da Rainha (Portugal). Visiting Slavov's studio in company of the Bulgarian sculptor Emil Popov, Hugo Voeten asked him a new version for the Sculpture Park in Gheel. Other works by Ivan Slavov in the collection of Hugo Voeten show the artist's versatility – he is equally fluent in creating portraits and figurative compositions, abstract and symbolic forms. Slavov's work is a testimony to the variety of expressive means Bulgarian sculpture achieved over a very short period of time.
Dessislava Dimova, 2016