By Ivan Belchev
Images: Mihov (All rights reserved)
In the last 2 years the image of Mihov has emerged from a pure banker in the City of London to an artist receiving positive acclaim by the world’s art scene. His paintings can be seen in exhibitions in London and Los Angeles alike.
Mihov, as his artistic and real family name is, gets inspiration during his international trips. One of his paintings was done in about 15 different cities around the globe.
The thing that attracted my attention in articles about you was the definition: Banker by day, Artist by night. What are the differences between these two characters?It is perhaps an unusual point of view, but in my opinion the two sides are not as different as one would expect. What people don’t realize is you need as much planning, calculation and attention to detail in art as you do creative problem solving and idea generation in banking. In my case, these two worlds are complementing each other.
I find painting relaxing and would use it as my meditation from a stressful day in banking.
How did you begin painting and when did you first realize you wanted to do arts?When I was a teenager I wanted to study arts, but having grown up with 3 mathematicians in the wider family, two of which were teachers too, it made it difficult to pursue anything but maths, which by the way I happened to fall in love with too. I can argue maths is art too, but it will be for another discussion.
When I first began exploring oil painting was about a year and a half ago. I felt like I needed a new hobby and something creative, as my life purely immersed in finance. So it was about striking a balance.
It was on a rainy day in central London when while passing by an art supply store I remembered how much I used to enjoy painting, so I thought to give it another go. From that day onwards, it has been a truly exciting journey.
Given then your environment, do you find any inspiration about art from the world of finance?I find inspiration from a variety of subjects and the world of finance is obviously one of them. However I also use developments in our society as the backdrop to my art.
In the past of every distinguished artist there was a time, in which he/she was noticed. Who was the person to open the door to the world for you?
The first person who encouraged me to create art and exhibit it beyond my living room was a former director of mine who is also one of the founders of Chrom Art. After I had started painting, we had a random conversation which connected us unexpectedly on the topic of arts.
What differentiates your art?In my view, art is made to impact the observer on a fundamental level. If you are exposed to a piece of art on a daily basis, it will make you feel an emotion, remind you of happy memories, fears, or even your own faults to be aware of. Art is a tool one can use as a spiritual compass through life. This is what I aim to always achieve with my art, it is not just aesthetics but the idea behind.
Obviously what else makes my art different is the context in which it was created and the techniques/process I use.
Can you give us an example of context?Each painting has its own story, inspiration which started it and a unique process of making. If I had told you that for instance ‘Carnival at the Worst of Times’ watercolours was being carried around 15 different places across the globe in the process of its making, that it was photographed in a palace, survived a 200 km/hour cyclone storm in India, got almost lost at an airport and ended up as a bill board at the Los Angeles Grand Union Station and a gallery in West Hollywood, you begin to see what I mean.
I sourced and used valuable materials such as pure 24 karat gold and jewellery quality, conflict free, diamonds dust.
Choose a painting of yours and tell its story.“Deciding the world’s future” was the piece that put me on the map through its feature in Forbes magazine. The painting was inspired by moments in life when key decisions about our future are taken behind closed doors, away from the public eye. The piece is also a play on a power struggle between two characters, fighting on who will have their way. The composition invites you in the room to take part in that conversation. It asks you what would you do.
The background is modeled on the statue of Hercules fighting the serpentine, which is my way of alluding to the emotion of wanting to squeeze an adversary by the neck and contrast that to the cultured, but psychologically heavy, conversation at the front.
Given the thematic, I thought the piece deserved to be opulent to create a sense of exclusivity. This is why for its creation I sourced and used valuable materials such as pure 24 karat gold and jewellery quality, conflict free, diamonds dust.
You use semiotics as a basis for your art. What is the role of the Symbols in your paintings?I like to challenge my audience, hence why I would usually prefer a more convoluted way of telling the story in each piece. The symbols I use are to create a level of association and understanding that will allow the observer to be guided through a piece, but allow them space at the same time to impose their own interpretation. For instance, in ‘Fame’ I used light coming from behind the central figure in a similar way as it is used in religious paintings. This was my way of making a statement that in today’s Instagram and selfie revolving world, fame is the new religion.
What are the reactions of the public to your paintings? What questions provoke you?Usually it is about the inspiration behind the piece or what it stands for. However I prefer to be asking my audience the questions as with art, each of us has a different perception based on unique life experiences.
One interesting question, which every young artist wishes to ask: “What steps did you take to establish the presence of Mihov in the last few years?
The steps will depend on the artist themselves and where they are in their artistic journey.
In my case the last two years were about experimentation and improving my ability to execute.
Oils can be a tricky medium by itself, when you start combining with mixed media as in my case, one needs to begin understanding acidity, levels of reflection, types of glue, to mention but a few.
What can we expect from Mihov next?Following Los Angeles, I will be focusing on exhibitions in London. I just completed the Fusion Contemporary Art Show at the Candid Arts Trust during and will be exhibiting next with the Flux exhibition between 12-16th July, for which I am one of the 70 artists selected out of more than 700 applications.
The Flux exhibition, which has become the place to be for collectors of contemporary art from around the globe and presents an electric mix of established artists next to emerging stars, will be hosted this year at the world-renowned Chelsea College of Arts, a stone throw away from the Tate.
Currently I am concentrating on completing a fuller body of work that will be sufficient to create my first solo exhibition, with the aim being be end of this year.
I am also interested to find collaborators and establish some presence through galleries, but currently do not have many pieces available for sale and have not had the time to approach parties.
Generally speaking though, expect to hear more exciting news from me as the year goes by.