The photos of Bulgarian artist Mira Nedyalkova are works you won’t easily forget once you’ve seen them. Mira’s main inspiration is water, and she likes to portray her models floating around looking like otherworldly creatures. I was curious to know where Mira’s inspiration with water comes from and,  of course, what inspired her in general. Fortunately, Mira was enough kind to take some time off her busy schedule and enlighten me with some insights on her inspiring work.  

Mira is a participating artist in ‘Aestheticism’, a beautiful.bizarre curated group exhibition with Vanilla Gallery in Tokyo.

Opening Reception: 9 April 2016
Exhibition Dates: 4 – 23 April 2016

Vanilla Gallery

8-10-7 Ginza Chuo-ku,
TOSEI Bld.B2F
Tokyo, JAPAN

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Could you introduce yourself and your work?

I am Bulgarian and live in Sofia. I have been painting since my childhood and studied at the Art Academy as a window-dresser. Later in 2007,  I discovered photography as a means to express myself and completely replace painting. In my images, I use pain as a beauty… and erotica as a psychological way of life. I express myself and my intimate inner life.

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If you had to tell somebody about your work, and are only allowed to show one photo or series, what would you show and why?

This will definitely be a very difficult task because each one of my series (photos) shows a part of me and my emotions. Anyway, for sure it will be a series or photo with water or underwater. I think that using water is the best way to express my idea, to deliver the emotion that I want while remaining true to my style, which I have built in time and which largely identifies me among the other artists, even the ones that also use water as a main element in their art work.

You’re well known for your stunning underwater portraits. Before I get into the details of the water’s symbolism, I was wondering something quite practical. How do you create an underwater self-portrait? 

In fact, I don’t have a self-portrait underwater! When I’m making photos of myself involving water I do it by using some kind of water source, for example a lake, a river or a pool. The photos are not under, but in the water. For sure there are artists that create self-portraits underwater but I haven’t discovered the appropriate way to do it and I’m not even looking for it because my desire to make photos of myself is becoming smaller in time. I have more interest in shooting new inspiring and interesting people.

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The water is a constant factor in your work. When did you first explore the art of underwater photography, and what does the water mean to you?

In my work, I use everything that surrounds me to express my ideas. And yes, water can often be found in my images. I always loved the water for its transparency, purity and strength. Water is so clean and visually looks so beautiful and subtle. The reflexes of the water seem to reflect images and light that are so unique in any given moment. For me, it symbolizes life and the transience of things. Symbolizes pleasure and sin, and in the same time purity and chastity. I strive to connect these two extremes and to blend them into one. For us to be happy, without forgetting the pain… 

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I read an interesting quote by you where you stated you wouldn’t call yourself a photographer since you love processing and alternating the photos you take in Photoshop so much. Photoshop, and digitally editing photography, is a tough subject in art. Many photographers despise it, yet more and more use the medium to enhance their work. What is your view on the evolution from analog to digital photography, and do you think Photoshop is inevitable these days?

Yes, I really love to work with Photoshop and I attach great importance to the post-processing of my photos. Largely, I think this is due to the fact that I have always painted… and with Photoshop in some kind of way, I’m getting closer to it again. I like to transform the photograph and partially distance it from the pure photography. I simply feel that I need to do it. Maybe because I have never been truly happy with myself as a painter. I also don’t have enough trust in myself as a photographer. The art that I create is a mixture between the two arts and the product is bringing me great satisfaction.

As far as analogue and digital photography goes, the technical part is not that important to me. For a good piece of art, it’s not important what type of camera you are using, it’s what emotion or message you are transferring, how much emotion it can bring, and if it is able to remain in your mind.  This is what defines the art. I think that Photoshop is a genius program and with its huge opportunities it brings progress and helps the development and perfection of photography, which I find truly inspiring.

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Before you started your career in photography you explored other techniques like drawing and painting as well. Do you still draw or paint?

Yes, as I said I have been working with drawing and painting since I was little. This continued ‘till the moment I found Photoshop in 2007. This program was the reason I started shooting. Since then, honestly, I haven’t painted. Simply, I totally replaced one with the other. Although, I remained faithful to painting using Photoshop where I apply a lot of my artistic skills and that brings me great joy and satisfaction.

You’ve mentioned the painters Cezanne and Schiele have greatly influenced your work. How does work from other artists, these two painters in particular, inspire you and influence your work?

Yes, this is right. Cezanne played an important role for me when I was a student and I was still painting. His work has been a great inspiration for me and by this time, my paintings were similar in technique and color combinations to his. My inspiration from Schiele has come at a later stage when I started to get inside the photography art and it continues until today. The influence of Schiele in my work is a lot more conscious and deeper. Here, we don’t refer to the technique and images he uses but to the emotions and feelings, his work is provoking in me. The art of Schiele made me look deep inside my soul and discover things that have not realized until this moment, and as a result, I started to express them through my photography.

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If you could choose one artist for a collaboration (dead or alive) who would it be and why? Cezanne or Schiele maybe?

Yes, of course it will be a great pleasure and honor for me to work with Schiele on a common project. Another artist who I truly admire lately, and who inspires my work is Christer Karlstad. I will be also very happy to work with him. I like his sensitivity a lot, the love he has for animals and life, the love at all, which sees through his work and captures us with its enchantment and power. I think that we are a lot alike in the way we see life: power to love, striving to overcome the pain, loneliness and become one with the nature and life so we can feel real happiness.

What’s the best museum or gallery exhibition you ever been to, and why did you pick this one?

I have visited a lot of exhibitions and museums and every time it brings me a great energy and inspiration. If I have to mention one museum that has really impressed me it will be without any doubt the Centre Georges Pompidou in Paris. There I truly felt the power and the potential of contemporary art, the magic of ideas, and their perfect realization, which brings undiscoverable aesthetic and emotional delight.

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You’re a part of the new group show at Vanilla Gallery,  curated by beautiful.bizarre that opens in April. Can you share a bit about the show and the work you will have on display?

Yes, I have been invited to take part in a great event like this international exhibition with the participation of many great artists from all over the world. For me, it was definitely a huge honor and pleasure to present two of my works there, specially created for this event. I love the taste and curatorial work of Danijela (Editor-in-chief) and beautiful.bizarre, and I feel that this is my place because the aesthetics and focus of the works of art they present coincide with my personal ones, which defines and gives entirety of the things for me.

With social communities like Instagram and Facebook around it’s almost impossible to not have an internet presence. How important is the internet for you as an artist?

Yes, the role of internet to the work of a contemporary artist is essential and crucial to his development and growth as well as for his popularity. It is even more important for an artist that lives in a small country like me, where the art is not properly valued. Thanks to the internet, your work can reach more people and this definitely gives greater opportunities for improvement. To this, I owe my popularity and I can say that considerable parts of my sales are via internet and online art shops.

Last but not least… can you recommend a book, movie or artist you’ve enjoyed lately?

My favorite book is “Venise en hiver” by Emmanuel Robles. When it comes to a movie,  I would recommend “Damage” and one new movie that really thrilled me, “Danish girl”. Concerning an artist, I have two favorite painters, as I already mentioned, Christer Karlstad and Emilie Steel. I am totally in love with their work. It charges me and brings me inspiration.

Thanks for taking the time to speak with beautiful.bizarre, Mira!

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