In this week’s Studio Sunday feature, learn more about Veneta Karamfilova, an artist and photographer from Bulgaria! Veneta creates beautiful images, largely focused on women and flowers, that have a flair for drama and immediately catch a viewer’s attention with isolated figures against a stark background. She has received awards from PX3 Prix de la Photographie Paris, the Tokyo International Foto Awards, and Fine Art Photography Awards and is currently exhibiting two works in PxP Contemporary’s inaugural show ‘Pilot.’
To me, photography is an exploration of the mind. A kind of fiction, offering a glimpse of a coexisting reality. A way of seeing a world floating between unspoken dreams yet-to-be and the endless nostalgia for the time that has never been, with a surreal motif.
Since photography is born in a split-second, I find it being the perfect medium to show a fraction of a supposed reality. A fraction that does not describe, but merely suggests. A fraction that has no beginning or an end, but is bound to have an afterlife, long and rich as the viewer’s memory.
The two main subjects I explore are women and flowers, as flowers are often associated with women and femininity.
My woman is a silent inhabitant of an alternative place that provides an escape from the passage of time. She is both strong and fragile. The center and only a fragment of something greater; a suggestion for something more.
Flowers are usually associated with women because of the idea of new life; a rebirth after the winter. Yet since they fade quickly, flowers are also linked with death. In my photographs, a slice of this birth-to-death shift is suspended in time.
Tell us how you first became interested in art and why it led you to the work you create today.
I guess I've always had the urge to create. I wanted to paint, but wasn't very good at it, so photography was a great substitute. Being able to seize the passage of time is an amazing ability. It's like magic, defying all physical laws of nature and at the same time being possible thanks to these same physical laws. I still sometimes paint. Just for my own pleasure of watching how the colors mix, the texture of the paint and how it all comes together in this perfect memory of how I felt. Painting is my other kind of magic. One that can capture a moment that has already passed.
Can you explain a bit about the inspiration behind your work?
The fragile beauty of flowers has always fascinated me for being so apt a metaphor of how ephemeral life is. It's a poetic tragedy. I'm here, I'm beautiful and I'm going to die.
What is your process like?
Some of the flowers I photograph are bought from the market, some are found on the street, and others come from my own garden. I might plant a bulb in the autumn and wait for the spring, to photograph it. Or I might find something on my way to the market, pick it and photograph it half an hour later. So I guess my process is a kind of flexible.
What do you hope your viewers take away from seeing your photographs?
I hope my viewers realize that real beauty is in diversity and imperfection. Тhese stereotypes of what is beautiful that we get bombarded every day are just an illusion. My flowers are all different. Just like us they come in all shapes and sizes; blooming or decaying; being whole or missing a petal or two. It's all of these little differences and "imperfections" that make each and everyone unique and thus interesting. For me beauty has always been associated with making an impression and being remembered. And you only get to be remembered if you are different from everyone else.
What one piece of creative or business advice would you give to your younger self?
I lost a lot of time thinking that I don’t have what it takes; that I didn’t have the skills, the equipment, etc. It took me quite a while to deal with that and make a move. I still don't have a fancy camera, nor do I have a studio. Most of my flowers (including the two, part of PxP Contemporary exhibition "Pilot") are shot at a corner of my kitchen, beautifully lit by two windows. But I learned that having an idea is the most important thing. The rest is just figuring out a way to make it happen. And you do by making small steps. So I’d tell myself: “Don’t think too much! Just go for it! Make that first step and then make the next one!”
Are there any exciting exhibitions, projects, or collaborations going on this year that you’re currently working on or will be soon?
I'm currently working on a new series, inspired by opera and ballet. I am a huge fan of both, so I suppose marrying them and photography is only natural. Opera and ballet stories are timeless. Love, hate, murder, heartbreak, betrayal, greed, power, conspiracy, women's abuse are still current issues in our days, centuries after their performances. This project is a personal interpretation of pieces of some of the world's most famous operas and ballets. The images are created by infusing my vision with parts of the libretto and the emotions felt, while listening to a particular piece. They are a kind of fiction, offering a selective personal view of the story. The fragile beauty of music born in a split second and trapped in it for eternity.