Stern, Street Art in Kapana, Plovdiv, photo by placescases.com
- A place of interest, Events, Experience economy, Explore Bulgaria

What footnotes did I put about the underground art places in Plovdiv?

Do you know what bombing means? To find out, read this article on and somewhere in the text you will find the explanation. 😊

My family very much loves Plovdiv and we regularly cruise the galleries and museum houses there. We wanted to do something different this time. I have read in the website of Plovdiv 2019, about an educational tour from the program “Open Art Files: Notes and Footnotes” and so we found ourselves in front of Kapana Gallery on the central pedestrian street “Rayko Daskalov” to meet a group of people, interested like us to explore art life. For my most pleasant surprise, our guide Ina Valentinova, a young artist, showed us interesting places “below the line”, i.e. in the underground art spaces in Plovdiv, met us with other young and very talented authors, and we were terribly grateful for that different and cool experience.

We visited an old building in Plovdiv, dating back to 1931, owned by the monastery in Mount Athos, i.e. the Bulgarian Church, provided free of charge for the use by young artists. It was super interesting to meet Mitko Genchev and Lyubomir Krastev, right in their work environment to tell us about the techniques they use, what inspired them at that moment. Mitko has his own pronounced style with the combination of resin and matt, from which his paintings seem to move. The graphics by Lyubo are super complex to perform because he first makes them on huge metal sheets, process them with acids and ink, and then prints them on paper. On his site you can see that he does  not limit his art  only to static forms, but adds  sound and motion in its digital variants.

Ina told us a lot of interesting things about graffiti and Street Art, and what distinguishes them. The former are illegal work, sometimes even rather poor quality, and the latter is with the blessing of the people responsible for the public spaces, where the artists are manifested. We saw expression in both forms.

It turned out that some graffiti artists get caught sometimes by the police, since drawing on buildings without permission is illegal. Some painter in Bulgaria got caught and put in prison for two years.

We have different type of graffitiers. There are people who just pursue creating chaos, who write nonsense on the walls, names of teams and paint swastikas. But there are also artists who give added value to the empty spaces that say something of value to society and rebel with the commonness and social indifference. In many countries, it happens that as the policemen catch them, they leave them to finish their jobs instead of arresting them. You’ve heard of Banksy, right? Without him the streets would be less interesting, right? But he’s hiding, and he’s not showing up, ‘ cause he doesn’t know where municipality censorship would get him.

Movie watching time: 2:11 min

There is one place near the train station in Plovdiv where the old warehouse buildings were turned into space for performance of graffiti masters. They called it among themselves The Gallery. When the free space is exhausted, one of them comes voluntary with white paint, whitewashes it and starts painting anew. Only the oldest works were spared. There is some kind of behavioral etiquette, respect and desire for continuity towards the best artists. I also learned that true street artists do not go to draw or tag on historical sights and places with cultural value. No matter how unconventional and rebellious they are, obviously they respect art in all its forms, especially the one that survives time.

We found out that some of the authors love to integrate into their work other artists’ tags (on street art jargon those are signatures or names of artists) and the surrounding details, doing something like upgrade of the space, only by adding their own signature. Some, like Stern and Nasimo, are directly invited by the municipalities to enrich public spaces with their art. Our authors are well-sought in many countries, not only in Bulgaria. However, others, who do not understand this expression form very much are limited only to the bravery to write something on the works of these already approved creators to cross, to spoil or write uncensored words.

We figured out why there weren’t many girls among prominent street painters.

Well, graffiti is the art of the city jungle- you have to be real survivor.

Before you go drawing for the first time on a big city wall, you have to practice on inside walls so that you do not confuse things when you start working on a large scale. Ina painted a 100-metre-high wall. It’s not an easy job. On top of that, for good and sophisticated painting of characters, you need to carry many and heavy sprays (some add brush work like FARS from Varna), other artists may choose to fight with them to expel the competition from their street territory. Or cops can get them. So, by hiding, fighting, carrying heavy sprays, penetrating places with limited or difficult access, you need to be really stubborn and enthusiastic to go on.

In fact, there is this great paradox- to become a good muralist, Street Art Master, and to be invited to work on public spaces legally, you need to start underground, hide from the police, fight the competition in the urban jungle and then become renowned.

The “Gallery” at Plovdiv station will be ruined soon, because a shopping mall will be built there. It’s even surrounded by white fence, so I barely succeeded to photograph some of the graffiti. Look at it here in the movie, because it won’t be available for observation any more soon. I would recommend this mall to take the name of the Gallery and provide special wall for street art. Thus, it will be distinguished from all other boring malls, more over, it will have an artistic image. Similar effect and a distinguishing from the enormous competition feature has  one of the latest and, for me, the most interesting mall in Singapore, ION Orchard  about which you can read on my itinerary What haven’t I told you about Singapore yet? Part 2

According to the theory of The Experience Economy by Joseph Pine and James Gilmore[i], an experience is memorable and full for the client when it is entertaining, educating, aesthetic and escapist. The tour of Ina Valentinova from “Open Art Files: Notes and footnotes” was just such a unique experience for our whole family.

Thank you Ina, as well as the other participants, each of which added interesting information about Plovdiv, its cultural events and details about street art!

Now I’m thinking of seeing if someone in Sofia does the same thing as Ina, to learn more about all those places that have impressed me with graffiti. By the way, bombing means spraying a quickie or a tag in as many places as possible with one or only two colors and running away so nobody sees you.

If you are planning to spend a weekend in Plovdiv and the surrounding area I recommend that you book your stay in it right here .For your convenience, I added a booking.com box, which refers directly to their site. I guarantee you’re going to use all your genius discounts and privileges they would offer to you. Just enter the dates of your trip, then hit the Search button and voila. In addition, booking.com are doing their best to make sure that your expectations as a customer are fulfilled. I’ve described an example about the latter in  my story about our stay in Shangri-La hotel in Singapore.



Booking.com

 

If you need a rent-a-car, you can book one here in the box of the biggest booking platform, although, in Plovdiv, I recommend you to walk around the center and the old town.


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Do you ever wonder how some places are so very different from others in service, environment, as a general experience? This means you are also interested like me in the topic of The Experience Economy by Pine and Gilmore. I’ve tried to recognize those places which apply it in practice its principles, whether deliberately or accidentally, and I think it is worth to consider them. Right click on category The Experience Economy.

 

[i] The Experience Economy, updated edition, Harvard Business Review Press, Boston, Massachusetts, by Joseph Pine and James Gilmore

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