Sculpture as an applied art has its own language. Acad. Krum Damianov, however, knows how to breathe life into his works and they all speak the language of dignity and monumentalism created by a talented human hand. Even his smallest sculptures have a “voice” that enchants.
Krum Damianov is a person with an impressive biography and creativity, accumulated over a period of 81 years. He graduated in the speciality “Decorative and Monumental Sculpture” from the Academy of Arts in Sofia, where he studied under the direction of Prof. Lyubomir Dalchev. In the period 1969-1994, he was a lecturer at the Department of Drawing and Modelling at the Faculty of Architecture of the Higher Institute of Architecture and Construction, where he became a professor. Then, until 2011, he was a lecturer at the Sculpture Department of the National Academy of Arts. In 2015, he was elected academician by the Bulgarian Academy of Sciences. His name is connected to a number of remarkable monuments and memorial ensembles in Bulgaria, including “The Creators of the Bulgarian State” in Shumen, “Asenevtsi” in Veliko Tarnovo, “The Bells” in Sofia, “The Defenders” in Stara Zagora. He also works in the area of cavalry sculpture. His works are owned by galleries and private collections in Bulgaria and around the world. He is the winner of the highest awards, including state ones.
Among the topics in his works are heroism and suffering. Through stone and metal, wood and clay, he builds images that are remembered and leave a trace. This is how Kalina Petkova, curator of his open-air exhibition in Square 500, which for months gave us the opportunity to measure our height with five sculpture compositions from metal, describes him as an author: “Acad. Damianov knows how to dismember widely accepted forms, and with the pieces to create new ones in which each detail is well thought of and makes the work complete. That is why it is different from every angle and with every look, the viewer can rediscover it again and again.” And indeed, the silhouette as a collection of angles is a technique that has turned into his individual signature.
Acad. Damianov aims to offer his own interpretation of Bible stories, getting to the idea of using an “inverted code” on his own. He uses allegories and in a dialogue with tradition were born his Satyr, Nymph, Corrida, Orpheus and Eurydice, Salome, Quadriga, Saturnalia: “Years ago, on a Roman capital, I saw the Prodigal Son painted in a primitive version. Then, for years, I wanted to make my own interpretation of this plot. But as many times as I tried, I always got to some famous variants created by great authors before me. I could not even achieve the spirituality of the Roman primitive, but I wanted to escape any imitation of what had already been done. At a certain moment, I was enlightened and decided to change the direction: the father was to ask forgiveness from his son. And the work became a reality after I found a way to escape the touch of epigonism.”
Acad. Damianov has a lot to share. For example, he realized that a new time had really come when young sculptors, ready to study his craft, started coming to his workshop and their first question was how much he would pay them. However, work is the best test, if there is a lot of pressure, the weak in spirit flee. But how one can recognize talent – here’s a formula he has learned from a colleague: “If you see that your child has taken a pencil and is drawing, break the pencil and beat the child. If you see the child doing it one more time, scold them, so that they don’t try doing it again. But if you catch the child drawing for the third time, buy them everything they need to become an artist and support them to go along this path. Those who cannot live without art are born for it.” However, what are the signs that give away a great sculptor? They must be very good at the craft, but also have academic knowledge of geometry and physics and use it well. Its accumulation takes at least 15 years of hard work, some of which are spent being a disciplined student. Then comes the philosophy that engages the spiritual beginning of the artist. Emotions and moral interpretations also have an influence and sometimes bring things to absurdity. Those who skip education compensate with assertions that this is how they sense things. Ultimately, the knowledge, skills and personal attitude of the author speak through their works.
Monumental art forces us to look at it because, along with architecture, it shapes our surrounding environment. Today, however, in the words of Acad. Damianov, the specialists in urbanism, architecture and sculpture are not recognized as the ones who take care of the environment that surrounds us through the prism of good aesthetics and professionalism. Without giving it much thought, under the pressure of political passions and emotions, monuments are being demolished, though they are the best keeper of information about the time they were created. If barbarians did not destroy the things already build, people might feel closer to past times.
The old principles, which societies were build around, exploded and everything broke into pieces. It’s the same thing with art – there are not even two grams of tradition left there. The academic skill is considered backwardness. An ugly trend that conquers the world is in the Madame Tussauds style. If you crawl on the surface, the way fields are measured, a repellent imitation is achieved. But the unskilled are after it. The machine will scan and make a better copy than man, but this is not art, assures Acad. Damianov, who is used to digging into the hardest.
In any age, we can deny or praise what has been done before. But then time chooses what to live on. According to Acad. Damianov, everything is a matter of individual chance. Each piece of work has its own destiny, which the author cannot influence after it leaves their workshop.
Krum Damianov has created many works from which people and time can choose.