A World Filled with Beauty and Love – The Art of Plamen Dinkov

St. Demetrius

Today, October 26, is St. Demetrius’ Day. This saint was often said to be the twin of St. George, the mighty dragon slayer. He’s the protector of winter and cold, and the patron saint of soldiers and the crusades. His holiday marks the end of the farming season. Our guest today, Plamen Dinkov, carves images of this saint, along with many other holy images.

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Did you know trees have souls and hearts? If you doubt it, take a look at Plamen Dinkov’s art to verify it for yourself. With his talented hands, he turns every piece of wood into a fairy tale, a prayer, a confession of love. His works help me dive into a world without pain and anger, where beauty and harmony reign.

His masterpieces are born from the roots, Bulgarian folklore, the traditional Bulgarian school of woodcarving. In his work, you’ll find scenes from Orthodox churches, icons, St. George and his fight with the dragon, and many other legends and magical tales. Bulgarian mythology is an endless topic of inspiration for artists and writers alike.

I asked Plamen to write something about himself to help me present it to my fans. I share his words and creative path and help you know him better. 

“I was born in 1957 in Blagoevgrad, and I spent my childhood and school years in Vratsa, where my love for art and woodcarving was born for the first time. I live and work in Sofia. Initially, I was also involved in metal plastics and artistic processing of metal in the Association of Masters of Folk and Artistic Crafts, but slowly woodcarving pushed everything aside. For 40 years I have been doing what I love the most. I learned everything in carving on my own, without any help. I even made my first tools myself. It was not easy, I had to discover the intricacies of the craft on the go, but it brought me great satisfaction and maybe gave me the opportunity to build my own style … The artist works for the audience, but the great thrill, love, intoxication for me is before, in the sleepless nights when the next work is born in your mind and in the days when it slowly comes out of your hands. My art has been bought and is available all over the world – Italy, Greece, France, Spain, Germany, Russia, America, etc. I am proud, of course, of my woodcarving crosses purchased and donated during the visits of Pope John Paul II and King Juan Carlos of Spain to Bulgaria in 2002 and 2003. Most of my works, though, are here in Bulgaria, in private collections and homes. I have notebooks and notebooks full of ideas for new things. There are a lot of ideas – there is so little time. If God said so, I would fulfill as many of them as I could … Finally, a question that a person often asks himself: Was he happy? Yes, I am a happy, extremely happy person! I do what I love and live in my world full of beauty and love!”

To follow Plamen Dinkov, you can like his FB page:

https://facebook.com/PLAMEN-DINKOV-WOODCARVING-345970847843/

Or his website: http://dinkovwoodcarving.com

 

Hope and Miracles

September is here. We’ve had many sunny days this summer where I live in Virginia, but now the sunrise is coming a little later each day, and the nights are getting cooler. I find myself thinking about what changes autumn will bring in this unusual year. I want summer to go on a little bit longer, so I can savor the sun, the sand, and the sea. I want to linger in that lazy feeling of endless summer.

My grandmother used to say that when there is an “R” in the name of the month, it means that it is one of the cold months. We will have to wait until May to enjoy the warm rays of the sun. Maybe this is normally true, but this September has been like a summer month, with temperatures 20 degrees above normal.

On September 14, Bulgarians and other Orthodox Christians celebrate the Day of the Cross. On this day, a special festive table is arranged and a strict fast is observed. The apples have ripened, the grapes are plump and sweet, and the harvest has begun. However, it is forbidden to eat red foods such as apples, peppers, tomatoes, and others as an expression of respect for the cross on which Jesus shed His blood to save mankind.

The oldest woman in the house prepares ritual bread, called Cross Pitka (round homemade bread) for the holiday. She shapes a large cross on the bread before she bakes it. Its ingredients include half a kilogram of flour, half a teaspoon of honey, half a teaspoon of baking soda, half a tablespoon of vinegar, and water for kneading. According to tradition, you have to sift the flour three times before kneading the dough. The ritual bread is broken when the whole family gathers around the table. The bread will rise only a little while it’s baking, so you should eat it while it’s warm. Once it cools, it’ll become hard.

The Day of the Cross is considered the day on which autumn begins. Therefore, typical autumn foods like grapes (any but red ones) and tikvenik (a pumpkin banitsa) must be present at the table. (You can find a recipe and more info about tikvenik here.)

After families pluck the first grapes of the season, they bring them to the church, so the priest can consecrate the fruit. It’s also customary on this day for people to give each other grapes, so the next year will be bountiful.

On the Day of the Cross, thousands of pilgrims go to churches, monasteries, and other holy places to pray for health, forgiveness, and miraculous cures. One of these places of hope is the Cross Forest, located in the beautiful area in the Middle Rhodope Mountains. This was the birth place of Orpheus, the famous musician from ancient mythology. One of the most magical places in Bulgaria, Cross Forest gives you a sense you’re touching the mystery of nature.

The Forest of the Cross is said to be filled with unexplained, extraordinary power that can cure any sickness. The magical powers are at their peak on the evening of September 13, the night before the Day of the Cross. People believe the heavens will open, and Jesus will descend to Earth to grant the wishes and cure the illnesses of those who offer prayers with true faith. Many stories tell how people with cancer and other incurable diseases miraculously found a cure. They say the water cures skin diseases and helps women conceive.

Unfortunately, I’ve never visited the place myself, but my grandmother told me many interesting stories. According to legends, part of the cross on which Jesus was crucified is hidden in this place, but no one knows its exact location. Monks hid it after Turks attacked and burned the monastery.

People also believe the extraordinary healing energy of Cross Forest comes from an ancient sanctuary to Dionysius, which is said to be hidden somewhere in the forest. But the Rhodope Mountains keep their secrets.

Miracles happen there, but people must have faith. Magic or not, in these challenging days, we all need to find our own Cross Forest. We need strong faith and believe in something to keep us going, so we can stay positive as we search for cures, happiness, and personal fulfillment.

Pick up a copy of The Wanderer – A Tear and A Smile: Reflections of an Immigrant for more insight into Bulgarian faith.

Thunder and Lightning, Very, Very Frightening

When I was younger, I loved to sit on the porch during a summer thunderstorm, hearing the rain pound on the roof and watch the lightning spit across the sky. This was especially enjoyable right after a steamy day, as the rain brought with it a cool breeze.

Long ago in Bulgaria, thunder and lightning once were thought to represent dragons fighting in the sky. Zmey (the good male dragon) would fight against Hala or Lamia (both bad female dragons). Lamia would stop the water from flowing and bring drought, while Hala would bring hail that destroyed the crops. She was also known to steal the fertility of the land. She’d carry it from one place to another in her huge ears. Wherever she dropped her stolen goods, the land would prosper.

The lightning was the Zmey’s fiery arrows, and the thunder was him crashing against his enemies. Often, his weapons fell to the ground, embedding deep into the soil and turning to stone. Anyone who found one of these magical arrows would grind it into power and add water to it to cure wounds.

Example of a stone-age arrowhead, which was believed to be a dragon’s weapon.
$1LENCE D00600D at English Wikipedia

Among other Slavic nations, thunder and lightning were thought to be caused by the god Perun. Under Christianity, Perun became St. Iliya (St. Elijah), the thunder-wielder, whose saint day is celebrated August 2. Thunder was caused by his chariot wheels rolling across the sky as he battled demons and dragons. St. Iliya was even known to elicit the help of good Zmeys to fight against destructive dragons.

The old people say that thunder is a sign that there will be a bountiful harvest in the Fall. Since there are no thunderstorms in winter, St. Elijah makes sinners build cities out of snow.

Elijah Taken Up in a Chariot of Fire

People believed the saint ruled over the summer clouds. As he flew over the sky, he collected them and locked them in the Black Sea. When the soil needed nourishment, he unlocked the clouds, sending dew and gentle rains across the land. At times, however, the saint became ill and was unable to perform his duties. The land suffered drought until he was well enough to once again bring the life-saving rain.

Thunderstorms, however, brought devastating rains. A couple of ways people tried to stop a thunderstorm from happening would be to light an Easter candle and kneel before it, or stick an axe handle in the middle of the yard and pour a handful of salt over it.

More information about dragons and dragon slayers will be available in our book about dragons, available around November 2020.

The Art of Forgiveness

The following is an excerpt from my memoir, The Wanderer.

According to Orthodox tradition, every spring before Easter, we ask our relatives for forgiveness. We also call our parents and other relatives in Bulgaria and ask their forgiveness. Even if we haven’t hurt or offended them, we use it as a way to get rid of the negative energy in our lives.

It’s important to differentiate between forgiveness and trusting someone again. Can you forgive a person when he hurt you several times? If you do, does it mean you approve of his actions? Are you giving this person permission to hurt you again? Some people don’t change for the better; they become more self-centered.

You can forgive, but you don’t have to forget.

Forgiveness is an important part of our lives. It’s no wonder Bulgarians, like other Orthodox, have a celebration called Proshka, Forgiveness. On the church calendar, this occurs before the Easter fast begins. The idea is to cleanse not only the body, but also the soul.

Although the church and other rituals were strictly forbidden during the Communist era in Bulgaria, my grandmothers honored them rigorously and taught us children to honor them. Before dinner, we had to kiss their hand and ask for forgiveness from them and our parents. It wasn’t just words; it was a serious matter. I saw the respect and dignity on their faces as we paid our respect.

Afterwards, for my cousins and me, the day was like a party. My grandmother made her delicious round bread, cooked fresh eggs, baked banitsa, and had homemade feta cheese and white halva. When she didn’t have white halva, she used Tahan halva, but they both melted in our mouths. We all waited for the dinner to end so we could make a hamkane.

My grandmother tied a red thread to the end of the dough roller, like a wooden rolling pin. To the other end of the thread, she attached a piece of halva, a piece of cheese, or a hard-boiled egg. We children stood in a circle on the floor or around the table with our hands behind us. We eagerly awaited our grandmother to shake the thread and make the halva dance. Like kids in America playing a donut game or apple dunking, each of us struggled to bite into the halva and get it to stay in our mouths. My brother and my cousins always won.

Symphony of Color and Light – A True Hymn of Harmony and Love

Orpheus

Bulgaria is known as the birthplace of the ancient singer and musician Orpheus. We don’t know exactly where his birthplace was, but tradition indicates it was somewhere in the beautiful Rhodope Mountains in southeastern Bulgaria, which was part of ancient Thrace. Legend has it that he lived there around 1400 BC.

According to Greek mythology, Orpheus was the son of the river god Oeagrus and the nymph Calliope. His unwavering love for his beloved wife Eurydice has inspired poets, writers, and artists in the past and to this day. His music enchanted everyone, and his sad songs made even the gods and nymphs cry. The heart of Hades, the god of the underworld, softened at Orpheus’s song, and the god agreed to allow Eurydice to return with Orpheus to earth. But she failed to survive the journey and disappeared forever, a brief but strong love.

Orpheus and Eurydice

Legend says The Muses carried Orpheus’s lyre to the sky after he died and placed it among the stars. His soul returned to the underworld, where he reunited with his wife.

Many visual artists, have taken up the story of Orpheus and Eurydice. I find those of Francois-Louis Francais, Jean-Baptiste-Camille Corot, and Edmund Dulac to be especially moving. But nothing can compare them to the renderings of the talented Bulgarian visual artist Keazim Issinov, who has more than 400 paintings devoted to Orpheus.

Magical Music

The light and love in his works are amazing. I am fortunate to have had the opportunity to meet him and spend time to learn and explore his art. He is not only a master of the brush, but a humble person, born ahead of his time. His art demonstrates much philosophy and prophecy and an awakening message to humanity. If life on Earth is ever destroyed, surviving future generations could use his paintings to recreate nature and humanity, a type of Noah’s Ark embedded in canvas. It’s no surprise he was given the Artist of the Century award in 2005 in the competition Millennium “1001 Reasons to Love the Earth” held in the Netherlands.

Orpheus’ Music

His paintings tell the story of Orpheus. Examine each of them, imagine their world, make up your own stories and dreams, and travel to the unknown.

Orpheus and Eurydice

I would like to close the article with few quotes about Keazim Issinov’s art

“Keazim Issinov is closely connected with the world of folklore – with its poetry of the legend which turns into a strange and thrilling fairy-tale not only the sagas but also the every-day life of the people. The essence of his style could be defined by the often used now term ‘magic realism’. For Keazim Issinov it is an organic combination of mythical and fairy-tale content, rich and striking imagination, primary ecstasy for nature and events, curios details while in technical aspect – of a calligraphic drawing, precision of the plastic form, magic lighting. In any case he is a gifted and productive artist who has a lot to say and knows how to say it to the people – in an unforgettable way.”

Kiril Krastev  

Orpheus’ Dream

“Great artists are always prophets. All of them, as well as Keazim Issinov, work with the past to create ideals of beauty that lead us to the future.”

Dr. Meter, Director of the Academy of Fine Arts, Vienna

A Whiff of Antiquity

“Without losing from its depth, the art of Keazim Issinov fulfills a rare mission nowadays – to both delight and ennoble.”

Boris Danailov

 

If you’d like to buy an original or a reproduction or his art, you can contact the artist directly at https://www.facebook.com/issinov/ or by email at issinov.fine.art@gmail.com.

Eternity

BIOGRAPHY

Keazim Issinov was born in the village of Sadovets, Pleven region on April 16, 1940. He graduated from the National Art School in 1960, and in 1968 graduated from The National Academy of Art, the class of Prof. Nenko Balkanski in Painting. After graduation he worked as a restorer at the Institute of National Monuments of Culture. In 1969 he started work at the National Research Institute of Psychology and Neurology as an art teacher.

AWARDS & EXHIBITS

1971

Competition “1300 Years Bulgaria” – Shumen – 3rd prize for his work “Sava Dobroplodni”

Individual exhibition at the Union of Bulgarian Composers – paintings and sculpture

Individual exhibition at the Central House of the National Army

1973

Exhibition – competition in Bulgarian Sports Union – 3rd prize for his painting “Portrait of Maria Gigova”

1974

Exhibition – competition at the Union of Motorists – 3rd prize  

1975

The painting “A Television Fairytale” was printed by UNICEF

Second prize by the Bulgarian Sports Union for the painting “The Flying Dimo”

1976

Exhibition in Berlin

1977

Competition ‘’Portrait of Sofia’’, 2nd prize

International painting competition “Humor and Satire” Gabrovo – 1st prize

1978

Individual exhibitions in Sofia, Blagoevgrad, Razlog, Gotse Delchev, Razgrad

1980

Individual exhibition in Lovech

1981  

Exhibition in ‘’Sredets’’ Hall, Sofia

Japan – 1300 Years Bulgaria, Tokyo, Odawara, Nagoya

1982

Varna – Days of Fertility

Exhibitions in Pleven, Gotse Delchev

1983 

Sofia – May Literary Days

Szczecin – Poland – 10th Biennial of Painting – Honorary Diploma

Exhibitions in Zlataritsa, Veliko Tarnovo

1984

Exhibition in Dolni Dabnik

1985

Exhibitions in Algiers, Prague – Czechoslovakia, Veliko Tarnovo

1986

Exhibition in the Bulgarian Cultural Center Wiigenstein in Vienna, Austria

1987

Exhibition in Sofia

1989

Exhibition in Vienna, Austria at Lenderbank

Exhibition in the Embassy of Russia in Sofia

1990

Exhibition in Sofia gallery “Art 36”

1991

Exhibition in Tokyo, Japan

1992

Exhibition in Sofia

1994

Exhibition in Pleven

1997

Exhibition in Sofia

1998

Included in the manual of the International Bibliographical Center of Cambridge 

Exhibition in Bursa, Turkey and “Sredets” Hall, Sofia

1999 

Plovdiv – Culture Capital of Europe – exhibition in ‘’Vazrazhdane’’ Gallery

2000

Exhibition in Sofia Earth and Man Museum

Registered in the 2000 World Foundation, Netherlands

2001

Exhibition in Sevlievo

Entered in the publication of the American Bibliographical Institute of North Carolina

2002 

Exhibition at the Bulgarian Ministry of Foreign Affairs, Sofia

Exhibition in First Investment Bank, Pleven

2003

Participated in general exhibitions in Germany, Denmark and Great Britain

Exhibition in Razgrad

2005

Artist of the Year in the 10th Art Salon in the National Palace of Culture

Honorary Sign of the President

Awarded Artist of the Century in the competition Millennium “1001 Reasons to Love the Earth” held in the Netherlands

2006

Awarder the order “Cyril and Methodius” 1st degree

2009

Exhibition in Sofia gallery “Arte”

2010

Jubilee exhibition at the National Palace of Culture, Sofia

First Prize – Art Salon

2012

Exhibition in the Bulgarian National Radio

Exhibition in London, Great Britain

Awarded the prize of the national campaign “Guardian of Tradition”

Exhibition in Dupnitsa

2013

Exhibition in Sofia gallery “Minerva”

2014

Exhibition in the Palace “Vrana,” Sofia

2015 

Awarded by the Ministry of Culture the Order “Golden Age”

During the 50 years of creative work the author has participated in Bulgaria and abroad in many events, connected with charity.

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Симфония на цвят и светлина – истински химн на хармонията и любовта

България е известна като родното място на древния певец и музикант Орфей. Не знаем къде точно е родното му място, но традицията сочи, че той е бил някъде в красивите Родопи в Югоизточна България, която е била част от древна Тракия. Легендата гласи, че той е живял там около 1400 г. пр.н.е.

Според гръцката митология Орфей е син на речния бог Оеагр и нимфа Калиопе. Непоколебимата му любов към любимата му съпруга Евридика е вдъхновявала поети, писатели и художници в миналото и до днес. Музиката му омагьоса всички, а тъжните му песни са накарали дори боговете и нимфите да плачат. Сърцето на Хадес, богът на подземния свят, се смекчава от песента на Орфей и богът се съгласява да позволи на Евридика да се върне с Орфей на земята. Но тя не успява да оцелее в пътуването и изчезна завинаги в подземният свят, кратка, но силна любов.

Легендата казва, че Музите пренесли лирата на Орфей на небето, след като той умрял, и я поставили сред звездите. Душата му се върнала в подземния свят, където отново се събрал с любимата си жена Евредика.

Много художници са черпили вдъхновение от историята на Орфей и Евридика. Намирам тези на Франсоа-Луи Франсе, Жан-Батист-Камил Корот и Едмунд Дюлак за особено трогателни. Но нищо не може да ги сравни с магическите платна на талантливия български художник Кеазим Исинов, който има повече от 400 творби, посветени на Орфей.

Светлината и любовта в неговите картини са невероятни. Щастлива съм, че имах възможността да се срещна с него и да отделя време, за да се запозная отблизо и изследвам неговото изкуство. Той е не само майстор на четката, но един невероятно духовен човек, роден преди времето си. Изкуството му демонстрира много философия и пророчество и едно силно събуждащо послание към човечеството. Ако животът на Земята някога бъде унищожен, оцелелите бъдещи поколения могат да използват неговите картини, за да пресъздадат природата и човечеството, те са един вид Ноев ковчег, вграден в платната му. Не е изненада, че през 2005 г. той получава наградата „Художник на века“ в конкурса „Милениум – 1001 причини да обичаш земята », проведен в Холандия.

Картините му разказват легендата за Орфей. Разгледайте всяка една от тях, представете си техния свят, съставете свои собствени истории и мечти и пътувайте към непознатото. Оставам платната му да говорят.

Бих искал да завърша статията с няколко цитата за изкуството на Кеазим Исинов.

Много художници са черпили вдъхновение от историята на Орфей и Евридика. Намирам тези на Франсоа-Луи Франсе, Жан-Батист-Камил Корот и Едмунд Дюлак за особено трогателни. Но нищо не може да ги сравни с магическите платна на талантливия български художник Кеазим Исинов, който има повече от 400 творби, посветени на Орфей.

Светлината и любовта в неговите картини са невероятни. Щастлива съм, че имах възможността да се срещна с него и да отделя време, за да се запозная отблизо и изследвам неговото изкуство. Той е не само майстор на четката, но един невероятно духовен човек, роден преди времето си. Изкуството му демонстрира много философия и пророчество и едно силно събуждащо послание към човечеството. Ако животът на Земята някога бъде унищожен, оцелелите бъдещи поколения могат да използват неговите картини, за да пресъздадат природата и човечеството, те са един вид Ноев ковчег, вграден в платната му. Не е изненада, че през 2005 г. той получава наградата „Художник на века“ в конкурса „Милениум – 1001 причини да обичаш земята », проведен в Холандия.

Картините му разказват легендата за Орфей. Разгледайте всяка една от тях, представете си техния свят, съставете свои собствени истории и мечти и пътувайте към непознатото. Оставам платната му да говорят.

Бих искал да завърша статията с няколко цитата за изкуството на Кеазим Исинов.

„Същността на неговия стил може да бъде определена от често използвания сега термин „магически реализъм“. За Кеазим Исинов това е органична комбинация от митично и приказно съдържание, богато и поразително въображение, първичен екстаз за природата и събитията, подробности за любопитството, докато са в технически аспект – на калиграфска рисунка, прецизност на пластичната форма, магическо осветление. Във всеки случай той е талантлив и продуктивен художник, който има много да каже и знае как да го каже на хората – по незабравим начин“.

Кирил Кръстев

 

„Великите художници винаги са пророци. Всички те, както и Кеазим Исинов, работят с миналото, за да създадат идеали за красота, които ни водят към бъдещето“.

Д-р Метер, директор на Академията за изящни изкуства, Виена

 

„Без да губи от своята дълбочина изкуството на Кеазим Исинов изпълнява една рядка в днешно време мисия – едновременно да радва и облагородява“.

Борис Данаилов

 

Ако искате да купите оригинал или репродукция или неговото изкуство, можете да се свържете директно с художника на адрес https://www.facebook.com/issinov/ или чрез имейл на issinov.fine.art@gmail.com.

БИОГРАФИЯ

Кеазим Исинов е роден в село Садовец, Плевенска област на 16 април 1940 г. Завършва Националното училище по изкуствата през 1960 г., а през 1968 г. завършва Националната художествена академия, класа на проф. Ненко Балкански по живопис.