Iliya Zhelev belongs to the first guard of contemporary artists in Europe. After graduating from art high school, he trained as a painter at two academies in his home country. Born in Plovdiv in 1961, the Bulgarian was inspired by masters such as Klee, Kandinsky and Poliakoff. In terms of color intensity, he proves to be an admirer of Marc Chagall. Zhelev's works are shown in numerous galleries and collections in Europe and the USA.
Poetic images full of magic
If you trace the mosaics in the works, you will encounter the typical canon of Zhelev motifs, which draw from Bulgarian folk art, children's drawing, ornate ornamentation and geometric variety. Zhelev's world is small-scale. The viewer is confronted with a staging of miniatures rich in numbers, which on the one hand lead a life of their own and on the other hand combine to form an overall picture full of magic. In his paintings, Zhelev tells little stories about existence in lovingly placed motifs. His fairy-tale imagery invites us to discover something new again and again.
Color worlds of explosive luminosity
With enchanting harmonies and the play of his colors, the small surreal sprinklings, Zhelev gives expression to a playful, unselfconscious joy that sees life as a wealth of possibilities. The signs and symbols embody timeless values whose roots are rooted in Bulgarian folk beliefs, among other things. In their richly detailed variety of motifs and decorative schemes, they are reminiscent of the work of Bulgarian textile weavers. Depending on whether the color fields are juxtaposed in related tones or compete as opposites, sometimes a gentle harmony is created, sometimes a tension-filled dialogue. Like Chagall, Zhelev is an endearing narrator in the world of fantasy and dreams. A painstaking poet who believes, with alert feeling and undisguised sensitivity, that beauty can save the world.