Inside the Studio

Ignata Vassileva

Favorite material to work with?
My favorite materials to work with are oil, ink, and pencil.

What themes do you pursue?
The Garden of Eden, Medieval gardens, and people and nature in harmony.

How many years as an artist?
Prior to learning to read and write… I started drawing in the margins of the books which I was taught to read. I was told off, yet nothing helped and I went on drawing. It was a long time ago.

Where is your studio?
I transformed half of my flat in Sofia into a studio. It’s located in a quiet area near the Vitosha mountain.

Art school or self-taught?
The Jules Pascin Academy in Sofia.

Prefer to work with music or in silence?
I cannot start anything without music and a cup of nice Japanese green tea. It wouldn’t work otherwise. Mozart, B.B. King, Eric Clapton, Pink Floyd, Monteverdi… and the sweet aroma of green tea… Everything in the world comes at its place! Harmony!

What’s around the corner from your place?
There are 5 to 6 50-year-old linden trees (intoxicating aroma in June) on the one side and 3 old apple trees, many cherry trees, a wild pear tree, lilac, rose bushes… and about 30 species of birds.

Where can we find you outside the studio?
You can find me outside the studio at the University Botanical Garden Sofia, or with my friends associated with the Bulgarian Society for the Protection of Birds, or at a Japanese tea ceremony.

If you couldn’t be an artist, what would you do?
Botanist, ornithologist.

What do you collect?
I collect books on botany, ornithology, tea cups, and superb tea.

Favorite contemporary artist?
David Hockney

If you could only have one piece of art in your life, what would it be?
“Eight-Planked Bridge (Yatsuhashi)” by Ogata Korin

Who are your favorite writers?
I like Medieval Chinese poetry, Japanese haikus by Basho and Issa, Plato, St. Augustine the Blessed, Medieval chroniclers…

Is painting dead?
No, this is impossible! The pleasure to paint what you are excited about, the pleasure to play with colours, with composition… There will always be artists who cannot resist this absorbing temptation.

Monet or Manet?
Monet! One day I want to have a garden more wonderful than his.

What inspires you?
I love medieval books. They hide images and words, the spirit of a past age in which there was still a harmonious link between man and nature.

The gardens that I create in my paintings are strongly influenced not only by the texts and miniatures in the old codices, but also by the everyday destruction of nature in our world. The gardens in the medieval Near East and Europe had the Paradise as its model. The selection of the plants to be included was dependent on rules and symbols. The Far East cannons were quite different in the creation of a garden an in its depiction. Nevertheless the two cases were similar in the fact that a harmonious connection was sought with nature.

When I pain and draw, I fill my gardens with birds and plants which hardly survive in the harsh ecological conditions of the modern world. I’d like to give them a small – even though imaginary place – where they would feel happy.