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A painter of manifold turbulence

December 26, 2009 | 10:15 am


Nouns and adjectives go a long way to describe works of art, but the turbulence within Iva Gueorguieva’s paintings demands verbs — lots of verbs. Shapes billow, pulse and scatter; lines thrust and plummet; colors collide, dissolve, shriek and sigh. The paintings engulf the body. They send the eye skittering.

Motion, change and transmutation abound, but some also see violence in the work.

“I’m fine with it,” Gueorguieva says, after some thought. “I think the word is quite complex. There is this swirling, big motion that does feel kind of violent and threatening, like fast-moving clouds or really heavy rain. The forces and directions and pushes — everything is always in a continuous state of becoming, and there is a violence to becoming.”

The flux in Gueorguieva’s paintings might seem wholly abstract, conjured by an artist who, at 35, enjoys the stability of a steady run of exhibition opportunities (the next, locally, at Angles Gallery’s new Culver City space in April), teaching gigs at UCLA and Claremont Graduate University, as well as a house, husband and young son. But turmoil has had a real presence in her life and has become the defining condition of her work.

Born in Sofia, Bulgaria, Gueorguieva was two years into the traditional curriculum at an academy of applied arts in 1989 when the communist government collapsed and with it, her inborn sense of order. “The whole society fell apart,” she says, seated on a cardboard box in her downtown studio, sipping tea on a chilly December morning.

To read Leah Ollman's "In the Studio" feature in Arts & Books, click here.

Photo credit: Brian Vander Brug / Los Angeles Times