Prof. Miroslav Datchev on Andrey Yanev – 2006

A Few Words About Andrey Yanev

It is my pleasure to write a review in connection to Andrey Yanev’s exhibition, which is to show his works on the subject of “The Athos holy monasteries”. The exhibition is organized by the Sofia City Gallery from October 10-November 3 2006.

The pleasant task to write about Andrey Yanev is also due to the fact that the New Bulgarian University is among the institutions which participated in an innovative way in the organization and development of the exhibition along with others like the Ivan Duitchev Center for Slavic and Byzantine Studies at Sofia University St. Kliment Ohridski and Dneven Trud newspaper.

The real reason, however, is different. There are many people who appreciate Andrey Yanev’s works, and rightfully so.

In the last few months his painting Forgiveness has captured the minds of art aficionados and beginners alike; it has been presented on the covers of magazines, web sites, it was connected to existential events in our world. There is some sort of magic in this painting that pierces the consciousness and makes one think about it, through it and to strive to be better, wiser. It is truly prayerlike.  But such are his other canvasses as well — deep, influential. I have been standing in awe in front of his yamurlutsi (hooded cloaks) and his portraits. The same thing happened with the Athos works which, I dare say, I was one of the first to see. That’s why I am not going to mention his participation in prestigious shows, his well-deserved rewards, the stained glass walls, which decorate various interiors — all this I hope that Andrey, departing from his intrinsic modesty, will write in his CV. I will say a few words about the Athos paintings.

The art critics know that such a show has not been done thus far. It could be expected that it will become an event if we look into the ambitions that drive this wonderful, artistic and scientific project. I have seen different art productions on the subject of The Holy Mountain: those of Tsanko Lavrenov, Ivan Lazarov, Nikolay Rostovtsev, Boris Denev among others, I know of a lot of photographs, memoirs, diaries, letters, scientific studies. Andrey Yanev joins this context in a particularly noticeable way. He does not only know well a large part of the Athos monasteries but he has felt their mysticism, their spiritual energy, their sacraments, which he manages to embody in his canvasses. Each of his Holy Mountain – Athos pieces is an experienced sacrament no matter if it part of nature, a building, a detail or everyday life he is portraying. Many artists have been overtaken by Athos and few of them have left valuable traces on their canvases. Andrey Yanev is among those few and even among them he is different. I am probably biased to a certain extent since I closely observe this process, but I dare say that as a person who deals with cultural semiotics, I write these lines objectively. His Athos paintings overwhelm because they have been painted by an artist who does not invent the magic, but captures it – it exists in this world, but there needs to be senses to feel it. Andrey Yanev has these senses. His paintings bring me back to the sacraments of the Holy Mountain, they create the illusion, that I am back there and for those who have never set a foot in that place, they will most likely create another illusion. If I had to choose I would always support the artist who gives new life to the secrets of existence – meaning that he not only has the sense to capture them, but also the courage and talent to give them new life for the others.

Prof. Miroslav Datchev
New Bulgarian University
Professor of semiotics, literary theory, interpretation