Studio hopping with ... Stefan Nikolaev
25 July 2020

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, reallity bites from the work  between the galeriest 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 second edition of Studio hopping with ... we are going to visit the studio of the represented by Sariev artsit Stefan Nikolaev


Hi Stefan, where are we catching you now? Where is your studio situated now? What's around?

You find me in my studio in Paris, around, people with masks and baguettes under their arm.


You are between Paris and Sofia - what are the keywords of these cities that inspire your work?

In the last ten or fifteen years, my way of life and work has begun to resemble a lot of seafaring life. When I'm on watch in Markovstudio, Sofia, wherewith great satisfaction and gratitude, I have the happiness to work, to let off steam, pull ropes, polish metal, harden steel ... I just create, I feel really happy and free because the horizon there is wide. But when I look through the monocle to the banks of the Seine, I see how beautiful they are, how much I miss them, I have a feeling that I have put not an anchor but roots in this city. But if I stay longer in Paris, I start to look forward to the moment when I will dive again into the bronze waves of the Gulf of Trebich. 



At the very end of the quarantine caused by Covid-19 you made the work Deadline, can you tell us more about it?

Deadline is a work I made at your invitation, for which I am grateful because otherwise, it would hardly have existed.

After a general quarantine, a total lockdown was declared, I decided that the time had come for me to stop, just to do nothing. But, as Hans Ulrich Obrist wrote in The Age of Earthquakes: A Guide to the Extreme Present [1], ‘doing nothing has become very hard to do ‘.

I have kept to a vital minimum the things I do; eating, drinking, reading, love.

For clarity, I decided to re-read "Love in the Time of Cholera" by Gabriel Garcia Marquez. The book says ‘life is more endless than death’ for most of us, thank God, life turned out to be more endless than quarantine.

‘Throw a big stone, don't say a big word’, I said to myself ... but this lesson doesn't apply to my Deadline work, with it I do both at the same time. On the one hand, the Deadline carved in granite is this line of names and numbers of people who died around the world, the number of which each country announced daily. This series of names that The New York Times published later on May 24 illustrating very accurately the weight of this stone.

Will the dead-line change our way of life, is it the end of obvious mistakes in social, political or private terms? On the other hand, it should be read as "The dead of the deadlines" because pay attention today everything is postponed with a future date which, however, will be confirmed later. Olympics, biennials, fairs, premieres ... not to mention more, are moved with a date that is in question.

After this period in which I deliberately froze my work, for me, the work Deadline is not a deadline but a starting line, the race begins, again ...



- This ‘special time’ we experienced made us rethink things, events, and us people in art also artworks. Is there an artwork of yours that you look at differently now?

Frankly speaking no. 

I don't think this situation has changed my view of my work. I rarely watch them but I believe that if they are good, nothing should change their meaning for me or for the audience that discovers or rediscovers them. I think that art has no specific function in society unless it is specifically made for a purpose; propaganda, involvement in a specific cause, etc. and its perception by that part of the population that has these senses and needs is very individual, I have always stated this in a conversation with visitors to my exhibitions. 

On the other hand, it is full of art that doesn't matter and there is usually a lot of it, so I look at it the same way I did before the epidemic. 


What do you want to change and what does not have to change in you as an artist after quarantine?

I would answer this question with the simple cliché ‘everything and nothing’, but I will say: nothing and nothing. My reaction, immediately after the quarantine came into force, when I thought about what I should or should not do, was the decision not to take any steps towards creative work. Maybe some form of solidarity with the world around me ... with the pilots (without forgetting the flight attendants) of Air France, the chefs of large and small restaurants, curators and museum staff or you gallery owners who were brutally stopped in their activities. I wanted to feel what it means to be forcibly (in this case necessary) detached from your job. An interesting moment that I think was useful and characteristic of my vision and way of ‘social distancing’ and environmental concerns for a more responsible production of works that I set a goal long before Covid-19. We must not forget, however, that ‘Less is more’ ...


Can you share a secret sketch or project with us?

No, because I have no secrets from you ...






  [1] Blue Rider Press, 2015