Mitko Karakolev, a visual, London-based artist, opened his first solo exhibition at the Tavistock Centre this week, with a series of dream-like works exploring memory, nostalgia, and melancholy.
The show’s title references a passage in Walter Benjamin’s book, Berlin Childhood Around 1900, an autobiography in which Benjamin muses on emotions and memories attached to domestic and public places.
“I’m quite interested in nostalgia and melancholy, and how these can affect the way people perceive and reflect on the past,” said Mitko at the opening. “I see the interiors in my paintings as ambiguous, in-between spaces which can be inviting but also slightly puzzling. I usually combine observational and fictional imagery which makes the artworks look slightly dreamlike…surreal.
“In his book Benjamin writes about a custom-built desk he had as a child which could be manually adjusted to make reading easier. The desk was his special place where he could get lost in his books and he describes the feeling of looking at old exercise papers as ‘a quiet pleasure’. I thought that phrase was quite fitting for the show since my work often alludes to a remembered past and the beauty in the everyday.”
Mitko’s works aim to capture fleeting moments in time. Facial expressions, poses and gestures suggest the inner worlds of the subjects portrayed in his paintings.
“Shadows are a common motif in my work, I use them to convey a presence but also to allude to the passage of time. I try to show and preserve specific moments in time through painting, whether that be a shadow traveling across the room, a view from a window or a particular feeling or emotion and hopefully this resonates with the viewer,” said Mitko.
The Tavistock Centre’s gallery hosts temporary art exhibitions by various artists every month. The Trust also has a permanent art collection, displayed around its building, in corridors and rooms.
Art plays an important role in helping the Trust to engage with staff, patients and everyone connected with its work.
Mat Zaremba, Art Curator at the Trust said:
“It’s a pleasure to host Mitko’s exhibition, all the more so that it happens to be his first solo show. The feedback from staff and students at the launch event was very positive, and the paintings sparked some engaging conversations.”