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Vladimir Dimitrov - The Master: "In order to feel good, we need to be generous to each other"

Self portrait

February1 is the birth date of one of the most significant figures in Bulgarian art - Vladimir Dimitrov-Maistora(The Master) (1.2.1882 - 29.9.1960). The day of his birth is celebrated as a real holiday by the inhabitants of the village of Shishkovtsi near Kyustendil. There the Master created much of his work in the portrait and landscape genre and in composition.


The tomb of the famous Bulgarian artist is  also located in Shishkovtsi and the local people still admire him as the most important man and role model. Vladimir Dimitrov received his nickname Master as a young clerk in the court of his native town Kyustendil. The reason was the way he addressed his colleagues: "Hello, master. You did a good job” His good heart and big talent won the respect of everyone who knew him and people started calling him the Master.

The Master among his paintings

Vladimir Dimitrov participated in the Balkan War and World War I. As a military artist he made hundreds of drawings of Bulgarian troops. He delivered with simplicity and finesse human emotions in trenches during a war. He is the first official military correspondent. Critics said that his canvases were characterized by expressive colors, an idealistic and symbolic style. Even after visiting the U.S., Turkey, Italy, London, Paris, Brussels, Dresden and Vienna, the Master found his biggest inspiration in “Bulgaria’s orchard” of Bulgaria and created his biggest masterpieces in the Kyustendil village of Shishkovtsi.


Vladimir Dimitrov came to the village in the autumn of 1924, invited by his friend Andon Viyachev, whom he had known since the First World War. The artist quickly won the peasants' sympathy, friendship and trust. In the fields of Shishkovtsi he created a world-class art. "If there was a paradise on Earth - this is the Kyustendil region with its heart being the village of Shishkovtsi," Vladimir Dimitrov - The Master once wrote in a letter. In the village there are several sites related to his name, and the most visited is the house in which the artist lived and worked. There one can see his original personal belongings and reproductions of his most important works.


Vanya Rizova is secretary of the "Vladimir Dimitrov - Maistora 1919" community center in the village Shishkovtsi. She says that it was renovated under a UNESCO program in 1982, the 100th anniversary of the artist's birth was celebrated. 37 years have passed since that day, which is an occasion for a big holiday in the village.


"For everyone in the village Vladimir Dimitrov - the Master is not just a man and an artist, he is an icon here. The older generation, the people before us, and the young people now respect, love and honor him. We are proud that he chose Shishkovtsi and we are proud to live in this remarkable village. The museum is a subsidiary of the gallery in Kyustendil, but we say that the atmosphere here is more real because the Master's spirit is still alive in the village and all of us are charged with his energy. And he was an incredibly generous man. Unfortunately, a lot of time has passed and very few people who knew him remain alive. There is a woman – Boyanka Jelyovova, who is 83 years old.

Boyanka nowadays and her portrait

She was 8 or 9 years old, when she saw how the Master worked. She says he was a very good man, very generous, responsive and cheerful. He used to give away his clothes and money to the poor. Whenever Vladimir Dimitrov came back from America, he gathered people downtown and told them that their village was paradise on earth. These words make us proud, because they contain the Master's love for our people. "


The celebration on February 1 starts in the morning at the gallery in Kyustendil, where a large exhibition of masterpieces I son display, Vanya Rizovasays. Each year on this day artists and art connoisseurs from Sofia arrive here. They also visit the village of Shishkovtsi, where they lay flowers at the artist’s monument. Then the whole crowd gathers in the yard of the house - museum. Now we have put on display new, better reproductions of the Master’s works and we try to get everything precisely selected and exhibited in the right way, Vanya Rizova says.


"Only those who have not seen the Master's works have trouble appreciate what this man has given to us and to all of Bulgaria. He is our wealth. That is why February 1 is a holiday in Shishkovtsi. The residents welcome guests with traditional local dishes, wine and brandy. The day is an occasion to remember human kindness and the life of the Master. And it was him who taught us to be more generous, to love each other and to respect each other. "

English: Alexander Markov

Photos: kustendil.bg

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