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Valentin Yordanov - the Bulgarian who changed the face of Las Vegas

"There is always peace after war", is the artist’s belief since childhood

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Photo: personal library

Valentin Yordanov is a positive, successful and radiant person who has been transforming the face of Las Vegas with his extraordinary colourful art installations, paintings and sculptures. The story of the Bulgarian artist is fascinating and motivating. He is an example of how a young man stops at nothing to make his biggest dream come true. Without patronage and financial support, Valentin has managed to establish himself as a high-class conceptual artist, worthy of exhibiting his works in top venues in the city of show business and gambling. Among his admirers is the mayor of Las Vegas - Carolyn Goodman, who has two of his paintings in her office.

Valentin's path from his hometown of Veliko Tarnovo in central Bulgaria to the art circles of Las Vegas has been quite long and challenging, but this does not discourage him, on the contrary, it motivated him to prove himself. He graduated from the Academy of Arts in Bucharest, where he gained the courage to develop his own style in art. He enriched his knowledge and skills in Vienna and reached the Land of Unlimited Possibilities, settling in Las Vegas 11 years ago.

"I was very lucky to go to many places, to see different artists and how they work. When I first went to Romania, I realized that the training I received in Bulgaria was very classical; I knew very well everything from a technical point of view. However, from a personal perspective, I had a long way to go to find myself. In Romania, all the artists who were trained had their own touch, they gave us a lot of freedom and Bucharest helped me a lot to discover who I am as a creator and to develop my own style. Then in Vienna I encountered world art, painters, different artists and galleries. But the biggest difference was in Las Vegas. For me, this city is like a fountain of inspiration. And when one sees my paintings and Las Vegas live, one can see the similarities in them."

He says he always loved to draw, but a severe injury and a long stay in hospital when he was only five years old seems to have determined his future destiny. To escape boredom and not think about the severed finger on his right hand, he started to draw all day long, then applied to a specialized art class in school. The theme of the admission exam was "war and peace", and the talented boy chose to draw only peace.

“I was the only kid in the group who drew peace. I think that was the reason they accepted me. They asked me why, and I told them that there is always peace after war. Then I started taking lessons and drawing. I grew up in Veliko Tarnovo - this city is very beautiful, there is a lot of art everywhere, a wonderful art gallery."

Since his student years, Valentin has travelled a lot, and everywhere he drew small sketches, which he calls "mental maps without a specific location". Then he collects all the drawings and unites them in a large composition. This is how his first large-scale urban projects came to life.

“Working on murals and sculptures on a larger scale provides me with new opportunities to get out of the studio, meet the public around and present my art in a different light. I also really like how the urban landscape beautifies and makes our day more positive and happy. Drawing on urban projects is a comprehensive experience, and each project is unique depending on the location, the idea and what we want to present.”

In Valentin Yordanov’s view, Las Vegas is being transformed extremely dynamically; serious funds are being invested in art in order to make the city a new cultural centre on the level of Los Angeles and New York. With the difference that it is much more open to new artists. This gives the artist a chance to actively participate in the development of the city, working on new installations and projects. Today, the Bulgarian is very warmly received by the public and his work is everywhere in Las Vegas, including the college in the state of Nevada where there is a sculpture by him.

"I was, and am currently, between two worlds: on the one hand, more classical painting, and at the same time I really like conceptual artists who put a lot of thought into their paintings. But in terms of styles in art, I am quite influenced by Russian constructivism, by the great monuments of Bulgaria, the old socialist buildings with their monolithic facades... something between design and art. Nowadays, the line between the arts is blurred and everything is perceived as one.”

"The most important thing is to be original and be yourself," says Valentin Yordanov. The last time he returned to his homeland was three years ago, when he held an exhibition together with the curator Martina Yordanova. Its motto was "There will always be tomorrow", aimed at all young people who travel a lot, looking for new horizons abroad, but one day return to Bulgaria. He himself shares his desire to one day return to his homeland and continue his career from here. But for the time being his energy is focused on another creative challenge and he intends to hold his next exhibition in China.

Valentin’s interest in Asia is not accidental. His wife, whom he met in America, was born in South Korea and their two beautiful children are raised and educated influenced by both cultures, learning Bulgarian and Korean at the same time.

 English version Rositsa Petkova

Photos: personal library

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