Artist Pavlina Chakarova lives in Sofia, Bulgaria.  I was intrigued by her self-portraits which I find fresh and inventive.  Her other works are very cool too.  I decide that I had to find out what inspires her.  Here’s our cool chat …

MICHAEL: Hello Pavlina, I love your work.  Your "self-portraits" are so fresh and inventive.  I love the mixed-media approach of creating the portraits which are ultimately photographed.  Am I right?  What was your inspiration in taking this approach

PAVLINA: Great! I like this fun chat! I'm sending you the links to two of my  writings as well, they are connected with my art, so maybe it will be  interesting for you!

The ”Self-Portraits” project is a part of a long-term work focusing on the topic of identity and my perception of the human's appearance beyond the material. I believe that the human body is a prism which diffracts the light and accumulates color electricity around the torso. This emanation (aura) embodies our metaphysical nature.

I’m working with the coloring of my own biofield, captured with Kirlian photography. I consider these colors as a manifestation of my state of mind and as a visual language that gives expression to my inner life. And I transform them freely into self-portraits. The medium I'm using is a pigment print on Hahnemühle Photo Rag Baryta and my inspiration comes from the abstract art and painters like Malevich, Paul Klee, Kandinsky and his book “Concerning the Spiritual in Art.”

MICHAEL: Very intriguing. Most people don't associate their inner lives with self portraits. They probably wonder how they can show their inner lives. You must really be enjoying the process, but doesn't our inner life change all the time? Are you merely capturing moments in time?

PAVLINA: Yes, that's right. Our inner emotions are constantly changing, but I believe we possess one permanent condition that reflects our metaphysical existence and these colors tell much about us, more than words can do. It's a sort of condition when you are in peace and harmony with yourself.

MICHAEL: Most people want portraits of themselves that depict them looking their very best - air brushed if possible - while smiling at the camera or for an artist. This approach seems so outdated. What do you think?

PAVLINA: My aim was to make people feel me through shapes and colors. I also think that there is no outdated way of expressing yourself in art, the point is does it has a high impact on you or not!

MICHAEL: What's the inspiration behind the "Photo Bag" pieces? I love the apparent wire or maybe even yarn wrappings around the human figures. How did that come about?

PAVLINA: Well, the idea behind the wire images is that in the process of communication, we are constantly exchanging with each other this color energy arising from our bodies. And unconsciously, we entangle ourselves with invisible threads and they keep us somehow connected!

MICHAEL: Very interesting. What do you think about all of this technology we have today? We have so much of it and we're contacting each other, but are we really communicating?

PAVLINA: Art is eternal. It changes its forms at times, but the connection with our inner world is constant. It's the same with the technologies, they are constantly changing, we use them to communicate and to express ourselves somehow, but the result has the same value, if we put our heart in it, I think!

MICHAEL: Do you think the art world respects female artists as much as male artists these days?

PAVLINA: Well, I think there is a tendency for such kind of discrimination. I can't really say I have felt it personally, but for me, the most important thing is how expressive the art is, how deeply it reaches your soul - regardless the gender of the artist!

MICHAEL: What's the art scene like in Bulgaria? Do people there care about contemporary art or are they too busy trying to pay their bills?

PAVLINA: Well, I would like to say they care, but I think that the people here don't feel free to communicate freely with art. The contemporary exhibitions for the most of them (I mean for those who are not professionally involved somehow with the art scene) are still something very abstract, something unknown, something they don't talk about, something that they think they don't understand. There is a need to close the distance and to make people start thinking of art as soul food, as sort of meditation, that helps them relax and makes your life more beautiful. Unfortunately, we can't even talk about art market here as well, considering the difficult economical situation here.

MICHAEL: So many people are suspicious of contemporary art and they ask, "Why is THAT art?" They sometimes think that art is a joke and they call it junk. What do you think about this? Is there a way to help people see art in a different way?

PAVLINA: Everybody has the right to have their own opinion and to choose either to like something or not. But I think it's necessary for the people to be involved in activities that will make them appreciate art and make them more passionate about art! Showing respect for art is something that needs to be brought up! As an example, I'll give the art workshops 
for children - they are very popular at the galleries and museums in Sofia right now and a great way for the children to start appreciating art at a very early age, to communicate freely with the works of famous artists and to feel the need continuing of doing this in future.

MICHAEL: Finally Pavlina, What is the point of art? Why should people care? Art cannot save the world and isn't art only for rich and highly-educated people?

PAVLINA: To answer this question I would like to quote Kandinsky: “Color is the key. The eye is the hammer. The soul is the piano with its many chords. The artist is the hand that, by touching this or that key, sets the soul vibrating automatically.”

Art is a gateway leading to a dimension that is beyond space and time and that can be reached, relying solely on your own intuition. It's a vehicle, which transports both the artist and the viewer in the otherworldly realms and makes their life beautiful.  Art is love, it's a soul food! And it’s meant to be for absolutely everyone! We the people are the ones who are making it somehow not accessible, limited or expensive, and we are those who should change this now!

MICHAEL: Absolutely.  Thanks Pavlina.  Great chat!

Check out Pavlina Chakarova at