Valery Poshtarov: Photography has power to stop time

Ibrahim from Ribnovo

"I have always thought that photography was comparable to poetry. It is the poetry of visual arts because you are free from many restrictions that we find in other visual arts. There is a direct view, especially when it comes to documentary photography when the photographer has to show the way he felt about the world around him. There is another type of energy linked to photography – it is power of stopping time," photographer Valery Poshtarov says in an interview with Radio Bulgaria. His photos take us to spaces where time is indeed frozen and we see faces of ordinary people that seem to speak to us. Just like the photographs from a project entitled "The Last Man Standing in the Rhodope Mountains", which Valery Poshtarov has been working on for years.

Dimitrina from Fillipovo

He has visited 556 villages scattered across the mythical mountain. The photos are deprived of any vanity and there is nothing unnecessary in them, as the focus is put on people’s faces and eyes through which one can get a glimpse of the human soul. The photos are not meant to show people's poverty or problems, but rather to remind us of some of the moral values ​​that our ancestors had but that we neglect today. Postharov admits he prefers black-and-white photography because the viewer is much more focused on the most important things, but he adds he has recently started shooting in color, too:

“Over the past year, after more than 15 years of work in the genre of documentary photography, I started shooting in color. This has been a challenge for me, which allows me to look differently on the topics that have always excited me. Color can also be an adequate means of expression, but considering that I graduated as an artist, color for me is something that has to express a state, to bring emotion and harmony. We photographers, especially those working in genres that do not allow shots to be arranged and directed, are largely dependent on reality. Therefore, color is not something we can add and use in order to achieve harmony, as a painter does with his works.”

Postharov has participated in over 30 solo and collective exhibitions in Paris, Berlin, Frankfurt and other European cities. He has been nominated for many awards, but awards are not his major motivation. Perhaps it would sound strange, but during the time I lived in Paris and regularly had exhibitions in Western Europe, I was looking for this attention and way of life, but later I was rather disappointed by the vanity of this lifestyle,” Postharov says.

Emrakh from Kussak

Mustafa from Zlataritsa“I have always been interested in meeting the people I'm going to shoot, not the exhibition goers. The moment of artistic realization is the one in which the artist creates his work. Perhaps, this is a very serious conflict for the artist because he often seeks success in public approval, in material well-being or in the image he has built for himself. I also believe that an artist is up to date while he is willing to express himself. Then nothing can stop the power raging inside.”

In 2011, Postharov returned from France and settled in Sofia, where he created the first online gallery in Eastern Europe dedicated exclusively to Bulgarian artists from the times of Modernism to the present day. His desire is to participate in the cultural life of this country. Nowadays, the paintings in the online gallery are 4000. The aim of the artist is to create a kind of virtual museum, presenting Bulgarian artists, as many of their works are privately owned or rarely exhibited in state galleries.

Rashko from Topolovo

English: Alexander Markov


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