A HUNDRED STEPS OF LIGHT
“God is Light
And those who walk with him,
Walk in the Light”
Gospel of John
About 50 years ago Hristo Kralev made a vow to painting and devoted to it his entire being with ascetic dedication. With wisdom unusual for his youth he built his own chapel in the vastness of the Dobrudzha land and began to hang his “icons” on its white walls. With a proverbial consistency he created personal idioplastic language, which makes him stand out among the thousands of painters as a unique artist with no analogue in our contemporary art. And he was not aiming in mannerism. Stendhal had said that he does not separate the artist from the thinker, as he does not separate the artistic form from artistic thought. Like a desperate gold digger Hristo was always looking for the grain of providence that gives the essence of the phenomenon called Life. Wandering in Dobrudzha vastness and talking with birds, clouds, grains and herbs he invariably comes to an ancient oak standing lonely in the plain, and begins to dig up its roots. Where the memory of the ancient land and its people is jealously hidden with their pagan customs, Christian sacredness, balladic string of holidays and rituals, in which people, animals and nature are connected in universal harmony.
Thus, on the walls of Hristo Kralev’s Chapel were born new and new narratives, saturated with metaphors and allegories. The artist created his cosmogony, in which the fertilizing rays of the Sun touch the Earth to give birth to grains with which Madonnas of Dobrudzha will decorate their heads and bake their bread. Man talks to animals with prehistoric love and Christo’s holidays are imbued with vitality and humility, patriarchal closeness and love of humanity.
Along with his unique iconography Hristo Kralev also created a technology, in which the fine line of the drawing forms a shallow relief of the image – a kind of Braille with which even the blind could “read” the ballads and parables of Hristo Kralev. And because the artist’s works are an apotheosis hymn to life, the colors of the nature around us, of grandmother’s aprons and rugs, of Orthodox icon are lovingly touching on his palette. I have always admired the stained-glass feel the artist’s works bring. The Light that draws together with him and collects the multiple pieces of images, as in a magical kaleidoscope, from which the senses begin to ache. In fact, with this exhibition the author is talking about light! Running away from the salon cavaletness of the painting, Hristo Kralev covers his images in unusual forms and paints the conditional frames to tell us that his expressiveness is natural and uncorrupted.
In this exhibition we see peculiar plastic fragments that carry a refined decorativeness but most often complement the artistic message. (“Hymn”, “Tree of Life”, “Winter Song”) The artist created a cycle of works reminiscent of home altars to reinforce the existential sounding of themes such as WAY, FAITH, ETERNITY.
A hundred steps of Light… I would say – a hundred treads of Light. Of the ladder that leads our spirit to God. God, whose name Hristo Kralev bears with such missionary devotion.