Studio hopping with ... Rudi Ninov
1 March 2023

Every dedicated gallery owner and curator works daily in several realities. The audience knows mainly the reality of the exhibition space, when the work is completed, exhibited and contextualized.  But there are many exciting stages before that, which are part of our work, reality bites from the work  between the gallerist and the artist, which you will probably be interested to know. One of them is a visit to the artist's studio. In the new section of Sariev's website we will take you with us to the studios of artists we work with and we will present you with them a project or work in development. 

In the third edition of Studio hopping with ... we are going to visit the studio of the the youngest artist represented by Sariev gallery who joined us in the beginning of 2021 - Rudi Ninov. We find him in his studio at Städelschule, where he is preparing for the exhibition ‘pretty sure it’s just the wind’ in Bulgaria curated by Victoria Draganova and a joint project with Galleria Continua, a show which will be presented at Antichità Bacarelli, Florence.



Hi Rudi, where are you now? What was life like in your studio in Städelschule during COVID-19? The contact with colleagues, the visits?


I’m in Frankfurt at the Städelschule where if the COVID-19 situation and time allows I should be graduating this summer.
As for the daily life in the studio…I have recently accepted all the restrictions we have, on a purely emotional level, and I’m trying to make the most out of every hour.
The new regulations have strict opening hours and pretty much all the meetings we have are online…it’s been like this since beginning of 2020. It’s frustrating for everybody, because you can only get as much from  the front camera of the laptop or images when talking about real objects and paintings. But I think for now the most important aspect of it is to keep the discussion and contact going! There haven’t been any studio visit.



Recently Sariev Gallery announced your representation. You are the youngest author from our list that we believe will have a brave and strong career ahead of him. In the days of COVID-19, in which the art world is restructuring, what does a young author dream of in his work?


This could sound a little cliche, but when the first time the studios closed and nobody was allowed in, and now I can only enter between such and such hours…it made me realize how emotionally and also physically I am dependent on my studio. My work is very much studio based and based on a process of material intrigue and searching, and most of the ideas for a new work come through the creative act. There aren’t any preliminary sketches for any of the works. It’s a constant feedback of decision making > looking > responding > (and back again).
To come back to the question, all that I am really wishing and hoping for is for more time in the studio. I have a pretty solitary life, from home to studio, and that’s pretty much it. So when the studio went out of the equation it was really difficult.



Your latest paintings such as Untitled (soso tune), 2020, as well as small geometric objects, work with space completely without engaging with any presupposed border of painting or sculpture. With the deceptive repetition of form and symmetry, they manage to create such a rhythm, which for me can only be connected with a stage work, where nothing is at stake and you can't scroll curiously and see what's going on. They keep waiting and are continuous.

So my question is what happens next?


I am very happy to hear that you have such an experience with these works.

Now when I think about it, I guess this feeling of suspense or expectations that you mention, does go back to the way the works are made and very much my own thought process. What I mean by that is, whenever I set about to work on a new piece whether sculpture or painting, it’s very much a follow up from the previous work. New work is always perpetuated by the already finished. These are moments where I see an interesting and unexpected part or corner in painting that I’ve just made, and then I immediately think, hmm…how would that work on a 200 by 120 cm space?, what if the blue is slightly more cyan like?, and the magenta turned into a reddish-brown?, etc. etc. It’s funny to say but in a way I’m also expecting for the unplanned and the mistake to happen, which is often most interesting because I was never in control of.

In the case of the painting you mentioned Untitled (soso tune), I was working on a bunch of new drawings which space, I dare say, I felt was slightly more sculptural than others I’ve done. I was thinking a lot about placement and building up of a space. What comes to the right or left of each color? How are colors joined and what happens at that synapse like point? Positioning on the paper? What is their scale in relation to the paper and  other parts of the drawing? How do you describe an open space and one that is closed?

I thought there was something inherently sculptural about these qualities and questions…and the (soso tune) painting happened as a response to those drawings. ( I should bring a few drawings to show you the next time we see each other).

Also, the new paintings I’m working on right now are very much following these same thoughts.

I wanted to go back to the point on symmetry you mentioned. I don’t have the same access of understanding or talking about symmetry and geometry to lets say someone who was actually taught ‘how to paint’, because I never was. But what I find stimulating in working with somewhat simplified shapes and colors , is that it enables extra room for complexities in arrangements that wouldn’t otherwise be possible to experience. There is something sensitive when working with let’s say five coloured circles… because every decision I make is highlighted to the most extreme and in return makes me hyper aware of every choice, and been able to detect the slightest differences. And that’s an interesting place for me to be at.

I have a similar experience when listening to Lubomyr Melnyk. He is a contemporary Ukrainian composer whose music I discovered in 2016. He is famous for his continuous compositions and besides that the music is just incredibly beautiful, there is that moment where within the repetition you catch the slightest differences. You catch the notes that jump and others that recede in the line. I often play him in the background while working. As a last point… Anthony Braxton would be the total polar of what I just said. I can’t do anything while listening to him.
I just listen.



In 2020, because of the pandemic, you started painting some beautiful drawings on the table at home. What did the second bring you and what will happen to the third?

How does artistic language change?


That moment at the start of 2020, when the first lockdown happened, reorganized my outlook in many ways. It was a compressed and emotionally tight space to do anything. ( I guess for many others too.) But I found a great deal of sincerity in it. It lessened preconceptions of what I thought was important to do next in life, to simple genuine feelings of love, of family, of staying healthy and happy. But I also felt vulnerable because the sense of time and planning ahead just went through the window. Also the sense of personal security, financial too, was a concern.

Which in return left me with a lot of space to open up to ideas that I may or may not have had the time and courage to do… and that’s how those first drawings came about.

It changed the pace of looking at things dramatically and that was the biggest shift for me personally.

I felt that for the first time I allowed for an idea or the feeling for a work I want to make, to stretch out along a group of works, and not to just pack everything in a single canvas.



Which works are coming out of your studio now and where are they going? What's next for you/them?


I’m participating in two group shows that are coming up in March/April.

‘pretty sure it’s just the wind’ is a group show curated by Victoria Draganova, taking place simultaneously at the Goethe Institute and Swimming Pool in Sofia. The artist participating are Kristina Lovaas, So Yeon Kim, Minhyeok Ahn and myself. I’ll be showing a few paintings from the new body of work I mentioned above and one sculpture The Runner, 2020, that I had only shown once right before the lockdown. There is something in the image of the leg like form that is pointing forward, with its echo following, which I felt was right to show right now. I don’t know.. I find something optimistic about it.

The other show which is still a work in progress, is an idea Galleria Continua had to put together with works of old masters alongside works of a few young artists. The show will happen at Antichità Bacarelli in Florence and I’ll be showing work together with the artist duo Ornaghi & Prestinari and Marta Spagnoli. We are still working on the title and the exact opening date which could also take place in April.




Images: Rudi Ninov