A Sculptor of liberated free forms, or forms suspended in the process of being liberated in space, it is Gheorghi Filin, who came from his native Bulgaria, where he was educated and trained.
First, at the artistic Academy of Sofia, then at the Academy of Fine Arts of the same city where he became an instructor and teacher and for more than ten years held the post of Professor of sculpture at the academy.
In 1991, he came to Italy and he has evidentally found ideal conditions to work and to live.
In reality, it is called Carrara and it's not just any city. It was his first Italian experience and he settled immediately in Italy.
Try to imagine an intensive open-air sculpture studio, which for centuries has been a pivot point, with ramifications for the diffusion of marble in the entire world.
A cross-roads of artists who today continue to commit their own sculptural fantasy to creating works of monumental importance as well as smaller pieces for interiors.
"It is possible to rely on masters of the art of sculpture who are capable of satisfying every possible demand or requirement."
This reference to the masters in sculpture, brings me to the conclusion that it is of major significance (not only as a presumed professional ethic, but also on a level of physical involvement) that the relationship of Filin with the "corpo d'amore" of sculpture is a factor that allows him to follow a method with no outside assistance.
In other words, to be involved with the sculpture in every phase of the work, from the raw block to the final refinements, arriving close to a quality resembling human skin.
This process includes the worrying phase of freeing and finding the intended form in the raw stone, other sculptors usually leave this process to the masters in the artisan studios.
This is not in any way to deny or reduce the well-understood and accepted practice of using artisan assistants, who are actually guided and supervised by the artist to accomplish the mainly mechanical part of the work.
All the more so, when the artisans of Carrara are considered to possess world renowned technical knowledge, competence and ability of execution, which has given such prestige to the marble artisans and is one of the marvels of the Apuan region.
It has always been normal practice to utilize the competence of the artisan studio. It needs only the example of Canova, who intervened in person only on the final millimeter of marble, which the assistants, working and following a plaster model, had brought to an almost finished definition of the final form.
I think that in the creativity of Filin, a decisive role is played by the sympathetic communication with the material selecting the favored marble for its peculiar delicacy, for the grain and the veins of which the physiological mineral consists, in other words, the generative property of the form. In order to sensitively capture it, the sculptural organism closed in the block of marble and already visualized by the artist, must be liberated.
Working directly into the stone is important because even commencing with a clear enough idea of the configuration which he intends to follow, Filin notes particulars during the working of the marble; gathering and using suggestions, and using the living stone to creatively exploit (even incidentally), often revealing alternative solutions to those previously projected.
In the completed work, one can perceive the sensitive modulation of the carved structure and, actually, the sculptural image is not a random choice but is always inspired by the drama of nature, which is a permanent laboratory of constant change in condition and form of material. The organic and the inorganic interacting determine the inexhaustible variety of existence.
Not without significance is the fact that Filin reserves a particular attention to water, to which he dedicates serious attention not detached from a poetical sense to the study and to the expressive rendering of the element which best interprets the concept of universal development.
From his point of view, the best reason is that the liquid element allows him to celebrate the creative virtue of excellence which originates and conditions, without doubt, the renewal of life and the inexhaustible source of always new and diverse conformations.
From here the theme of the wave, or in other words, of a form which grows and sails under tension in space until it reaches the culmination of its dynamic arc and the liquid mass breaks and foams imprinting with its own collapse, the energy of the successive wave. The sculpture which represents waves; a change in the state of integrity, from fullness to space, from smooth to granular, from solid to liquid, constitutes the central theme in recent times of the work of Filin.
From the small sculptures, which form the focus the larger ones; frequently realized on a monumental scale for public places in many countries around the world, (on commission from public institutions or private clients, others, on the occasion of international symposiums) there is always excited interest and surprise for the impressive mass of the work, once confronted with the quality of the results.
I wish to draw your attention to the leading role of the wave in the creative state of mind of Filin which implies the theme of life, previously treated in earlier works clearly biological such as nuclei or fertile ovaries in which incubation and the growth of the organism is destined to assume completion and autonomy of the various living species.
Obviously this included man, who rarely appears in actual bodily form in the sculpture of Filin. Perhaps it is caught in the act of liberation, like a chrysalis freeing itself from the casing which constrains it. Presented as a mental "space" referring to the solid geometric forms, prisms, pyramids, divided cubes disposed in balance, one on top of another, to allow surfaces to slide and to be regularly attacked and assaulted not only by external factors, which corrode and change their surfaces, but more by a vital force growing from within which makes it levitate physiologically while it is transformed into another.
Observations made up to now are only a beginning of reflections on the sculpture of Filin and quite insufficient in rendering an idea of his supposed preconceptions and his formal and stylistic quality. Such a study would call for a larger space not possible in the space of a short article.
I wish nevertheless to conclude with a further note which, it seems to me, is not only pertinent from the point of view of language, but which has been confirmed in the long journey made by the Artist. The significance of the poetic level as well as the suggestive impression made on the observer.
Returning to the idea of lightness which the work suggests in more and more subtle and evocative ways, by virtue of the progressive reduction of mass and volume. The sculptor divides to liberate the forms from the weight of the material, and preserves the sense of its organic connection to the earth, as a fruit of the earth it can live and breathe in purity.
Professor Nicola Micieli
ITALIA 2001 PRIZE FOR SCULPTURE.
STRENGTH AND PURITY IN THE WORK OF GHEORGHI FILIN.
And suddenly it's Art; an Art made from a profound observation of everything captivating, symbolic and vital, capable of motivating this Artist.
A sculptor intent on transforming a piece of stone into a "living being" on which he engraves an essence, which eternally manifests the bursting energy which gave its origin.
The important point is that "bursting energy" which, in the work of the artist, is not only an expression of a conception but is also a reflex of the constant challenge, the sculptor engages in with the material.
We are thinking of that magic edging, or the opening of volumes in a foaming crest which becomes the unmistakeable cypher of many of his works.
"Mermaid" (Sirena) is a work which expresses emblematically this talent and which appears as a recurring symbol in all his sculpture - joining abstract impression with the figurative and majestic surface with detail of extreme delicacy.
When I encountered Filin here in "our" Carrara I often admired his complex and delicate sculptures with particulars cut out of the hard marble through elegant chiselling to arrive at a work of purity and absolute lyricism.
When one observes the work of Filin, endeavor to look below the surface, not to accept your first impression, but to understand the subtle texture and the delicacy of the refined technique. A technique used sparingly and with great professionalism and control, this is one of the secrets of sculpture. "Understand fully to realize with less", in other words, try to enter into the intimate world of the creative fantasy of Filin, which roams freely towards vast horizons and embraces many cultures, confronting as a protagonist, themes of mankind and ideas of the sculpture in the 20th century.
Professor Piergiorgio Balocchi
head of the department of sculpture the Academy of Fine Arts - Carrara - Italy
Filin shows that talent is not only a gift-the result of training and education, but is also distintive character.
His creative life is notable for a mental insight, a delicate and elegant sensitivity and a continuous and unending search for something new. Even today, I continue to see in Filin, a sculptor who stubbornly believes in the permanent values of sculptural and stylistic elements and when taking into consideration many modern categories is capable of reaching heights and results which are full of forceful artistic content.
Decisive, delicate and impressive sculptoral works which transmit the feeling of eternity and which penetrate the soul and remain as a lasting echo in the mind; they are genuine artistic creations.
Professor Velichko Minekov
former Director of the Academy of Fine Arts, Sofia, Bulgaria
1998 Creativity Award.
Gheorghi Filin: Emotion of shape (from an art review)
The artistic creativity of the Bulgarian artist, Gheorghi Filin, bursts into a magnificent composition, which has an immediate power of expression. The equilibrium of his works, the spaces split by light, the contrasts generated by the hardness of the materials used are subdued by the energy of his spirit.......
And his art becomes poetry wrapping all his artistic production in the mystery of form shaped, caressed and penetrated......... The artistic searches, explored to the point of exaltation of subject, enraptured by his own sub-consciousness, working marble with frenzied determination; his expression is a need, which only settles on completion of his work.
Filin's sculptures transmit no hesitation, but rather a deep awareness of his love for sculpting which embraces the artist in the climax of his creation.
Maria Rosaria Belgiovine
Toyamura International Sculpture Biennale 2001.
Sculpture by Gheorghi FILIN "Thinking evolution"
"A sequence of cresting waves and dashing spray is the sculpture I get from this work, which manifests a sense of dynamism and tension."
Director, Museum of Contemporary Art - Sapporo - Japan
Comment on the Toyamura Int'l Sculpture Biennale 2001
The Door of the Soul.
Sacred and sculpture (excerpt from an art review)
In Filin's sculptures substance always rises into shapes which signal the birth of life, in a clever balance between geometrical rigour and creativity.
Professor Giuseppe Cordoni