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In the studio of Bulgarian sculptor Seyfettin Shekerov-Sefo

Sefo at 50: I have never looked for the easy way and I have never been afraid of the hard way

Photo: Sevda Ducanci

There are artists who are not much talked about – and they too do not like to talk about themselves. They prefer that the works created with their mind and hands speak for themselves. Their silence sometimes “raises” its voice through the “Lyre of Orpheus” in the town of Devin, their idea of power finds expression in the four-metre statue of a warrior rider in the centre of Lovech, their wisdom is revealed in the monument of Exarch Iosif in the same town, we see it paying homage to the Guards Memorial in Sofia, and their love is reflected in the waters of the Black Sea with the beautiful “Sea Nymph” near Burgas.

Seyfettin Shekerov aka Sefo is one of those artists who are more captivated by their work than by the vanity of publicity.  The works of art listed above are just a handful of his monuments and sculptures. This year, Sefo celebrates his 50th anniversary with exhibitions at the “Minerva” Gallery in Sofia and the “Artistico” Gallery in Plovdiv.

Born on 29 August 1971 in Sliven, the sculptor graduated from the High School of Applied Arts in his hometown and later from the National Academy of Fine Arts in Sofia. He frequented the studio of Vezhdi Rashidov, with whom he worked on joint projects, and in 1998, he graduated in the class of Prof. Emil Popov.

We find Seyfettin-Sefo in his workspace in the Boyana neighbourhood in Sofia. The garages of his home have been turned into a spacious studio with separate areas with a foundry, furnace, a space for carving, forging, designing, modelling and everything else necessary to create a work of art. To our astonishment at the complicated work process, Sefo admits that he “likes complex things”.

“I have never looked for the easy solution and I have never been afraid of difficulties. I am a hard-working person. I cannot just sit still and stare at the stars. If I take a rest for three days, I have already started working on something on the second day. When I was a student, my colleagues would say: “Why did you choose sculpting? You know how difficult it is. Why don’t you focus on something else?” But I like my job, I mastered many techniques already as a student and I learned something from all the people I worked with. Now I have completed the cycle and I make everything myself – from the clay to the stone, I complete the whole process myself here in my gallery.”

Many young people frequent Sefo’s studio. The sculptor is happy that some of them have already embarked on their own artistic journey and have made a name for themselves.

“Many young people left the country”– there is a touch of grief in this short sentence. He goes on about himself:

“I stayed because I was an idealist about Bulgaria and the opportunities it gives young people. It is really very difficult, but I decided to remain in my home country.”

The author’s plastic expressiveness takes us to a world that is emotional and beautiful. In Seyfettin’s work, horses are magnificent creatures and bulls are full of force and passion. Pisces, rhytons, mythological scenes – those are some of his favourite subjects:

“I enjoy doing everything, but I am mostly fascinated by the animal world – bulls, horses… I am fond of mythology, too. I have also been crafting fish for 10 years now and it gives me great pleasure.”

The sculptor has had nearly 40 solo exhibitions in Bulgaria and abroad. He has authored many monumental sculptures. The bust of Hristo Botev in the high school in Devin and of the prominent lawyer Zhivko Stalev at the Sofia District Court are his creations.

Sefo is also the author of the plastic sculpture “Eternal Fire” dedicated to the May events of 1989, part of the so-called “revival process” (the forced change of names of the Turkish population in the country in 1984 – 1985 – author’s note) at the municipality of Kaolinovo. He is the author of many sculptures presented as awards. Collectors and companies in Germany, England, France, Japan, South Korea, the USA, Turkey, Bulgaria and many others, own Sefo’s works.

How has the pandemic affected the artists projects?

“Quite negatively”, admits Seyfettin Shekerov. “I keep on working, but it is difficult to market my projects when all galleries are closed. The society is under stress because of all those restrictions. Everyone keeps distance and we also keep distance. I wish everyone health and prosperity, may we love each other and we will make it together!”

English version Milena Kazakova

Photos: Sevda Ducanci and private library
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