What periods is Pavel Mitkov’s art categorised in?
- First period, before 2000 - Awareness
- Second period, 2000-2012 - Insight
- Third period, post 2012 - Enrichment
The periods have been defined by the painter himself as 12-year development cycles related not only to the artist’s work but also to a man’s overall development. One cycle ends only for another to begin. A person faces many challenges that need to be addressed. “Each period usually starts for me with strong motivation, a shift in a new direction and total transformation. Judging from the cycle length determined, the first period must have started in 1988 when I was not into painting yet. It was not until 1994 that I took my first steps in painting – in the middle of that 12-year interval. In 1988, at the age of 11, however, I remember taking a pen and writing what I wanted to become for the first time”.
Mitkov’s childhood aspirations naturally were about wearing a tight white T-shirt and jeans, building muscles and winning out over the “bad guys”. Still, it was indeed the start of becoming aware, self-aware of himself as a person who could change things. Barely 11, young Pavel was full of energy and life plans. He kept rabbits and by the time he was 12, he already had 112 rabbits, taking care himself of grooming, feeding and mating them. This later turned into one of the future artist’s first business endeavours.
Pavel grew up taught to work hard, taking care of pets, mowing and helping his parents build their house. He was ridiculed by his classmates, who were interested in a very different sort of things at the time. In 1994, the middle of his awareness period, he took up painting, influenced by his mother but still by a mere chance. His parents met famous Bulgarian painter Bozhidar Hadzhistoyanov. He brought Pavel brushes and paints, introduced him to the basics of painting and then left him on his own. Pavel quickly mastered the brush.
During that period, Mitkov’s works were greatly influenced by his tutor’s art. He borrowed themes from Bozhidar Hadzhistoyanov’s art until late 1999 or early 2000. That is why the period is known as ‘awareness’ – Mitkov was searching for his own self and had no plans to take up painting in earnest. The end of this period was very tumultuous for the artist, with a transition to real life and taking the first blows from it. At the age of 11, he fell in love for the first time (platonically, of course), at 22 he got married, got divorced at 24, then fell in love and started a life together with the woman of his life. That was the end of building self-awareness and the beginning of insights. Late 1999 and early 2000 saw Mitkov compose the following painting:
It depicts two burning boats, two worlds in rough seas. In the sky, there is a vision, a dream of a house. It is what later on became a brick-and-mortar house Mitkov built himself. Just look at the house Mitkov painted in 1999 and the one he built as his home in 2005. The burning boats symbolise love, which every person feels during their lengthy voyage in the deep, lonely seas. Waves rock the boats, fire turns the sails, the mast and the hull to ashes and salvation can only be found in a home, family and a stork on the chimney. By the time the house was ready, Mitkov had already got two “visits from the stork” and a little later, a real stork made a nest on the chimney. No need for any interpretations – everything is clear in hindsight and serendipity had nothing to do with it. “I remember that when I was painting this, I threw off all restraints and thoughts. I was in a kind of trance. When I came round, the painting was right there before me, just as we see it now. Little idea did I have what it meant but I knew it was for me.” From 2000 to 2012 Mitkov matured, started a family, created a home and a business, but in the end, he all but lost everything. “Until 2006, everything had been so strong, on an upswing, that I took myself too seriously and I made mistakes that all but cost me everything. The problem was that I had achieved too much too quickly for my age so I figured I was invincible. I ventured into a new business and besides painting, I went into real estates. That industry was highly profitable in Bulgaria at the time. I bought and sold land and apartments, built housing, but when the economic meltdown hit in the late 2007 and early 2008, I was deep in debt. The property market imploded and interest rates shot up. People panicked and also got poorer. Nothing was going the way it was supposed to and banks demanded payment. At that time, it was painting that saved me, as I entirely turned to it.” The burning enamoured boats are caught in a storm and the captain can count only on nobody but himself. Wind rocks them ruthlessly and threatens destruction to the home. Only the strong survive.
I have always been a person who takes responsibility. It is my nature, my conscience and my upbringing. After 2007 I realised, though, that it was people who took responsibility that bore the brunt of it all. They fell victim to greed, laziness and those hiding behind little contract terms, law provisions and bank operations. It was a battle between traitors and the worthy. Actually, it was not a battle at all but rather traitors firing from ambush at unsuspecting honest people. My takeaway from that period – I learnt to listen to my heart; I learnt to love God; I learnt to treasure my family; I learnt not to give up – valuable lessons.” The closing came on 21.12.2012, the date thought to mark the end of the world all over the globe.
“It was when the world changed course for me – a course for the good, for spiritual development and bloom. In fact, I really felt it happening on 10.02.2013 when the Earth entered the Age of Aquarius. There came the Chinese New Year, kicking off the Year of the Snake – the animal sign I was born under, too. In other words, the good won.” And it is the end of the ‘insight’ period and the beginning of ‘enrichment’. The beginning of that period saw the making of the following diptych:
Angel Pegasus unbridles earthly Pegasus from the fetters of the evil spirit. Now it is free and will also rise as an angel, ushering the age of love.
Mitkov’s latest paintings mark the start of the new period. They convey a completely different message, being a source of a tangible spirituality attained through years of battling his inner self and the world. Mitkov is no longer trying to paint everything. He no longer paints just for money or does commissioned work unless he can relate the work to a spiritual mission. His paintings are now priced times as high, reflecting the experience and emotions he puts into them. “I have come to realise that a painting can show you and change your life. It is alive and although it does not really move, it can take you to the farthest corner of the Universe in a fraction of a second. Although it does not speak, it can tell you much more than (sometimes boring) TV shows. And although it is not a living human, it can give you so much love that you will feel the most beloved person in the world. What matters is the emotion you put into composing it. That is its soul.”